You’ll Never Look At Imaginary Friends The Same Again After Spencer & Locke #4

by James Ferguson

The detective duo of Spencer and Locke are so close to closing their latest case. This is personal for Locke as the victim is someone close to him. The investigation has taken the pair through the seediest parts of the city and it’s dredged up a number of bad memories. Now Locke faces the gangster behind it all…
[*Warning! Spoilers for Spencer & Locke #4 below!]

…and it’s his father.
Spencer & Locke #4 from Action Lab: Danger Zone serves as a finale for the series, grabbing all the loose ends to tie them up neatly. That doesn’t mean it lacks in startling reveals. This is a mystery comic, after all. There are some jaw-dropping moments that change everything for the title characters. Some are more convenient than others.
The book reads like the climax of an action movie. The final showdown is in a dinosaur exhibit with hulking skeletons looming above the players like gigantic reminders of death. Artist Jorge Santiago Jr. expertly choreographs the battle. Bullets are flying every which way, setting off tiny explosions of light as they ricochet off shelves and columns. All the while, Locke soldiers on. Like I said, this is personal now, and in more ways than one.

Although the action and excitement would be enough to carry Spencer & Locke forward, writer David Pepose brings the book home with the incredible and heartwarming relationship between the two main characters. Locke is a troubled individual that has seen his fair share of torment over the years, starting at a very young age. Spencer is his stuffed animal panther that has been with him through thick and thin. He serves as a conscience, a shoulder to cry on, and backup when Locke needs it most.
The book builds to an amazing moment with Spencer as he shows he’s more than just an imaginary friend. It speaks volumes for what he has done for Locke as he’s seen him grow up. It’s simultaneously touching and badass.

The scenes bounce back and forth between the museum battle and shots from Locke’s childhood. These flashback panels are drawn in a similar style as Calvin & Hobbes. It’s fitting given the title characters. While it’s easy to describe Spencer & Locke as a grown up version of Bill Watterson’s classic strip, the comic moves beyond that. It’s much more than a gimmick.
The flashback sequences portray some of the problems Locke went through as a kid through a new light. They don’t take away their weight. Instead, they show what they might look like through the eyes of a child. They serve as reminders that we all go through moments of doubt, fear, and loneliness as a child. We just cope with it in different ways.

Spencer & Locke #4 wraps up this mystery adventure and leaves you begging for more. I want to see this duo tackle more cases. I want to see them star in their own police procedural. On the surface, this is a 1980’s style action movie about a guy and his stuffed animal. It ascends past that and delivers some deep drama with some troubled characters that works on all levels.
Spencer & Locke #4 is currently available from your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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