Saturday, July 22, 2017

Spencer and Locke #4 Review

Cat Got Your Tongue?

Written by: David Pepose
Art By: Jorge Santiago, Jr., Jasen Smith, and Colin Bell
Cover Price: $3.99
Publisher: Action Lab Comics
Release Date: July 19, 2017

With Spencer & Locke coming to a surprise end ( which is only a surprise to me as I mostly jump into reviewing some of these series without knowing much about them and do my best to avoid any kind of solicitation talk), I’m looking forward to wrapping this mystery up. Although the series hasn’t been all highs, I think it’s done a great job of using a well-known and beloved comic strip to broach the subject of imaginary friends and coping mechanisms we use to find solace in the more traumatic sides of our lives. With that being said I can’t help but be a bit disappointment in how the mystery itself has been handled as it seems to take a backseat to having surprise endings and focusing more on the emotional coping aspect. So let’s jump in and see how the series wraps up.

This time around we come into the issue with the comic strip involving the attempted suicide by Locke. It’s here where we see the imagination of these older comic strips taking a turn in that it’s Locke using it as a way to soften the attempt. We find out Locke knows entirely what he’s trying to do, but it isn’t until Spencer asks him to not do it, that it reveals that to us. At first all we get is Locke going to take a jump into a machine that is going to transform him into something else. These comic strips have always taken a dark turn eventually but this is the first time where we see Locke using it as more of a coping mechanism on its own and not just a way to escape or to have his friend Spencer there. That it’s potentially used for suicide purposes just makes it that more impactful.

The impact doesn’t end there as reveals in this issue just keeps on coming. I would be lying if I said some of these twists and turns were set up well, but it doesn’t really make them any less impactful. To find out Hero could possibly be Locke’s daughter, the confirmation that Locke probably killed his mother, the levels Locke’s father will go are all equally impactful even if they hadn’t been perfectly executed.

We end up getting a lot of action in this issue that ends up having Locke and his father hanging on for dear life, but there is a lot of small moments in this finale that really sets it apart from just being a finale to an ok series. We get the transition of Spencer between Locke and Hero, we get growth out of Locke in realizing he has something to live for, along with Locke seeming to finally overcome the hindrance his past and family has wrought on him.

This series or even this issue wasn’t perfect, but I have to commend it for doing something special. I think it was short sighted to look at this series as just a dark twist on a classic comic strip. Although it does play off of that initial idea and does seem like nothing more early on, this issue brings to light just what David Pepose pulls off in this book. He sheds a light on the lengths humans will go to cope with some of the darkest sides of life. Yes it ends up being a dark twist on an old comic strip, but it’s also a dark look on the concept of the strip in the first place. With Calvin and Hobbes you get a character using imagination to deal with boredom and existential crises, in Spencer and Locke we see how that same simple format can actually be a much darker look at how a young child ends up coping for things it has no other way to comprehend. This series may not be perfect, but it does something special and I commend it greatly for that.

Bits and Pieces:

Looking at this book as a cheap attempt to cash in on an easy twist on a beloved IP would be insanely short sighted. While not perfect it does great work at showcasing a dark side of something that has mostly been seen as sweet or innocent fun in the past, and just how far a human can go to cope with something it can’t easily deal with.


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