Spencer and Locke #1
“You Can’t Go Home Again”
Spencer and Locke #1 is first and foremost a noir crime story. Detective Locke has come back to his old neighborhood to investigate the murder of a childhood friend. Being back on his old stomping grounds brings back memories he would like to have forgotten. Locke is a good detective but has had a troubled past as a child, luckily he has always had Spencer with him to help guide him through life. Spencer is a stuffed animal, a panther to be exact and he is Locke’s best friend for life. As they dig deeper into the murder of an old friend they find shocking revelations and things start to get deadly fast.
David Pepose has taken the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip synopsis and brought it into a “grown up” light. The issue starts with a classic homage to the comic strip that takes a dark tone quickly. We are then shot into the present days of Locke and Spencer “grown up” and on the scene of a murder. Pepose does a superb job of making the first “Sunday morning” comic strip scene work well setting up the Calvin and Hobbes type friendship while also delivering a wealth of information about Locke, he does this in several other flashback scenes as well, delivering a “newspaper” like comic strip scene that delivers great back story. Pepose scripts this well with the present day scenes involving the investigation of a homicide and the detective work that has to be done. He also wonderfully toes the line of being serious because of the subject matter but also not going to “dark and gritty”. Pepose does a fantastic of setting up characters and plot lines in this first issue, by the end the Locke is very well established and the reader becomes invested in him in just a few pages and the story delivers a great murder mystery.
Jorge Santiago, Jr. just does some great quality work on this issue. He nails in the flashbacks paying homage to Bill Watterson style from his classic comic strip. It sets up the relationship of Spencer and Locke perfectly by using this style, then he dramatically shifts his style to a tighter less cartoony look when the story goes into the present day. Santiago wonderfully switches back and forth between these two stylings throughout the issue and it is perfectly done. Jasen Smith on colors also does a fantastic job of matching his colors to these two different styles and tones, giving the flashbacks the more comic strip cartoony feel to them having the colors be a little more bright and then shifting them to a little darker tone in the present day. The art is just beautifully done in this issue.
This book is a fantastic comic and a surprisingly good debut issue. This is an idea that could have been a disaster very easily, really does anybody want a dark, gritty, noir style crime Calvin and Hobbes story? Well, yes if it is done like this I do. The creators toe that line of being dark and serious but also still having some great fun with the concept of having an imaginary friend help you out through life. This really was a surprise and this reviewer was not expecting such a great issue. If you are looking for a new series to pick up do not let Spencer and Locke slip past your radar!
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