Skip to main content

REVIEW: 'Spencer and Locke' #1 by David Pepose, Jorge Santiago, and Jasen Smith


★★★★★ (5/5)

It takes some courage and confidence to take one of the most beloved comic strips ever and reinvent it as a dark crime noir comic. Yet, David Pepose and Jorge Santiago, Jr. find a way to honor Bill Watterson's seminal work while creating a pulpy murder mystery that stands on its own. 

'Calvin and Hobbes' follows the humorous antics of Calvin, a precocious, mischievous, and adventurous six-year-old boy, and Hobbes, his sardonic stuffed tiger. In that same vein, Spencer is a stuffed panther that Detective Locke carries with him, apparently unnoticed by others, and interacts with him as they investigate the murder of Locke's grade school love. Pepose walks a thin line between parody and drama but finds the perfect balance in tone and dialogue. The scenes with Spencer and Locke conversing are humorous but doesn't overstep the importance of the investigation. In fact, the story is dark and only lightened by Spencer's observations and the flashbacks but those too are melancholy considering the present day situation. 

Santiago shows a lot of versatility as he plunges the crime story in a gritty, grimy, urban landscape while occasionally brightening the darkness with very 'Calvin and Hobbes'-like strips flashing back to when Locke and the victim were kids. It's a great nod to Watterson but also adds some poignancy to her murder, fleshing her out a little. The rest of the time Santiago and colorist Jasen Smith establish a shadowy world made of purples, blues, lavenders, and reds. The noir aesthetic comes through from the first page creating the right atmosphere for this unique procedural.

'Spencer & Locke' took a risk, openly integrated the concept of a modern classic comic strip and it works. It just works. The 'what if' of a boy and his stuffed animal grew up to be a detective and his imaginary partner is executed without irony or played as a gimmick. It's a dark comedy that David Pepose lovingly portrays as a serious crime drama and it's irresistible. So far, Action Lab has another great title in their stable making this a must-buy. 

Popular posts from this blog

Fred Van Lente & CAFU Decode ARMSTRONG AND THE VAULT OF SPIRITS #1

Valiant announces ARMSTRONG AND THE VAULT OF SPIRITS #1 – a hard-charging, standalone special coming this winter from New York Times best-selling writer Fred Van Lente (ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, Incredible Hercules) and red-hot rising star CAFU (RAPTURE)! On February 7th, join in a riotous celebration for the ages as Armstrong, for the very first time, uncorks the ancient mysteries of his centuries past – and dares his closest comrades into the adventure of several lifetimes!

Deep beneath New York City’s seediest dive bar, Armstrong – the hard-hitting, harder-partying immortal veteran of history’s greatest escapades – is hosting an invitation-only affair for his most beloved friends and allies! Archer… Ivar, Timewalker… Faith… Quantum and Woody… And special guests from across the Valiant Universe… All have been offered a seat at the table for a personally guided tour of Armstrong’s most valuable and tightly guarded treasure… From the Great Flood to ancient Greece to the height of the C…

REVIEW: 'Bonehead' #2 by Bryan Edward Hill, Rhoald Marcellius, and Sakti Yuwono

Bryan Hill pumps the brakes a little in the follow up to the fast-paced debut of 'Bonehead' with more great world building. The mystery surrounding Bonehead 56 deepens but we at least get some backstory and details about what his arrival means for a pair of brothers with opposing viewpoints.


BONEHEAD #2   
Writer: Bryan Edward Hill Artist: Rhoald Marcellius, Sakti Yuwono Letterer: Jaka Ady Graphics: Comolo Editor: Elena Salcedo Publisher: Image Comics Release Date: January 31, 2018 Cover Price: $3.99
Score:★★★★☆ (4/5)
After a thrilling video game-like first issue, issue two gives way to the brothers Kray. Aleph is a tech scientist examining the unconscious "56" and marveling at his abilities. He reminds him when his brother Hideki roamed the city as the vigilante Blackdeath. Hideki is a Gladiator (cop) now and he questions Aleph's methods with 56 and its legalities. Nonetheless, they need 56 to be free on the streets for now so they can monitor him. The brothers c…

REVIEW: 'Hit-Girl' #1 by Mark Millar and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz

Hit-Girl is most certainly back and as deadly and crazy as ever. She's gone international looking to fight injustice and find a worthy sidekick. Mark Millar is in top form with help from artists Ricardo Lopez Ortiz and Sunny Gho. The heart of the Kick-Ass legacy lives on as bloody and as thrilling as you remember.


HIT-GIRL #1
Writer: Mark Millar Artist: Ricardo Lopez Ortiz, Sunny Gho Publisher: Image Comics Release Date: February 21, 2018 Cover Price: $3.99
Score: ★★★★★ (5/5)
The retirement of Dave Lizewki as the original Kick-Ass has left a void in Mindy's crime-fighting life. Trying to recruit his replacement has been challenging to say the least. She's going to go it alone and taking her skills global as a cry for help leads her to Colombia.

Millar hits the floor running with a wild prison break, Mindy parting ways with an unworthy partner, and a grieving mother looking for justice. The sudden blitz back to the world of Kick-Ass is like comfort food for comic book fans. …

NEW COMIC BOOK DAY: Notable Releases 2/7/18

What a week in comics! There are so many great books out this week that I couldn't include them all on this list. Take a look at this killer's row of shiny new comics.



(W) Sean Murphy (A/CA) Sean Murphy
Jack's mind and body begin to betray him as he prepares for an inevitable showdown with Batman, and Bruce himself struggles to keep his team united. As the game gets tougher, Batman seeks counsel from a shocking source-and after Wayne Manor is infiltrated, a car chase for the ages aims to curb Napier's supercriminal crew once and for all.


(W) Paul Dini, James Robinson, Jeff Lemire, Steve Orlando, Mark Russell, Kyle Higgins, Alisa Kwitney, Phil Hester (A) Guillem March, Frazer Irving (A/CA) Kelley Jones
It's hard being a monster... and even harder being a monster in love. Sparks will fly and hearts will be broken when the ghouls and ghosts of the DC Universe assemble to bring you the Valentine's Day Special that no one saw coming!


(W) Tom King, Len Wein (A) Kell…

ADVANCE PREVIEW: 'BLACK [AF]: America's Sweetheart' by Kwanza Osajyefo and Jennifer Johnson

Can a black woman be America's first superhero?


Eli Franklin is a 15-year-old girl living in rural Montana--and she just happens to be the most powerful person on the planet.

In the aftermath of the world learning that only black people have superpowers, Eli makes her debut as the superhero Good Girl, on a mission to help people and quell the fear of empowered blacks.

When a super-terrorist threatens to take away everything Eli has worked toward, will donning a patriotic costume be enough for her to find acceptance?

America's Sweetheart expands BLACK into a universe of heroes.

BLACK [AF]: America's Sweetheart
Written by Kwanza Osajyefo (BLACK) and illustrated by next breakout artist Jennifer Johnson. With a gorgeous cover by Sho Murase. Letterer: David Sharpe
Designer: Tim Smith 3
Editor: Sarah Litt
Published by Black Mask Studios

Based on characters created by Osajyefo and Tim Smith 3 from the world established in BLACK, the breakout comic book series by Osajyefo and Smith, …