REVIEW: SPENCER & LOCKE 2 #1 Channels Beetle Bailey In Its Return

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SPENCER & LOCKE 2 #1 Intro PageSpencer & Locke 2 #1

Writer: David Pepose
Artist: Jorge Santiago Jr.
Colorist: Jasen Smith
Letterer: Colin Bell
Publisher: Action Lab Comics
In Spencer & Locke 2 #1, the situation has gotten considerably more dire for Detective Locke and his trusty companion Spencer, Locke’s seven-imaginary talking panther.
When the first Spencer & Locke series ended, Locke had just had the wind knocked out of him. The culprit was none other than the worst of the big bad—his own father Augustus, the crime boss syndicate whom Locke mistakenly shoots for vengeance. And then there’s the question of a long lost daughter and what turns out to be senseless murder. So naturally, Locke’s got a few grief issues to resolve before story’s end.
How better to deal with a seriously bruised psyche? Cue in the second volume of this whacked noirish series by the team of David Peopse and Jorge Santiago, Jr.. Not only do Pepose and Santiago display their ardent admiration of Bill Watterson and Frank Miller, but they channel Beetle Bailey in the new big bad with Coach Riley, an ex-combat soldier seeking his own brand of twisted justice. From the get-go the action is intense, the new villain an eerie moral reflection of the broken hero.

In this first book, we witness the fallout of Locke’s actions in the first Spencer & Locke. Locke is under investigation by internal affairs; Hero, the long lost daughter, is under the care of child protective services. Spencer is beyond angry. And Coach Riley is taking out city government leaders like there is no tomorrow. Not that Locke can sit idly by, especially if solving the riddle means he gets his life and career back.
Pepose’s script is punchy, quick-witted, but also deeper and darker. His three-dimensional treatment of Coach Riley as the psychopathic mirror image of Locke down to their moral discernment is beautifully reflected in Santiago’s similarly drawn facial structures and Jasen Smith’s color palette. This is especially apparent in one nine-sequence panel that lays bare all the influences that Pepose and Santiago bring to the series.
It’s a surreal and mind-blowing cartoony mix of Calvin & Hobbes, Beetle Bailey and bloody street-level scenes ala Daredevil that heighten the intensity of the violent rivalry between Coach Riley and Locke. And Spencer & Locke 2 #1 beautifully sets a tantalizing stage for the frothing maliciousness to come.
SPENCER & LOCKE 2 #1 nine-panel page shows all Pepose’s and Santiago’s influences.

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