Spencer & Locke 2 #4 Is An Impressive and Jaw-Dropping Finale

by James Ferguson

Everything has led to this. Locke and Roach Riley are facing off for the final time with the fate of the city and Locke’s own daughter, Hero hanging in the balance. How far will the detective have to go to put this madman down once and for all? And will he be able to look himself in the mirror afterward? Of course, Locke isn’t alone. His imaginary friend / stuffed animal panther Spencer is along for the ride, but that connection is being questioned for the first time ever.

All of this alone would be enough for a compelling finale, but that’s just part of the story. Yes, that’s where the bulk of the action is, but reporter Melinda Mercury has managed to dig into Roach’s history and found the true reason for his terrorist attacks against the city. Somehow it’s even more chilling than the acts themselves.

It’s no secret that Roach has been through trauma with his experiences in war. Spencer & Locke 2 #4 shows us the moment he cracked. Artist Jorge Santiago Jr. depicts this in the comic strip style, but it doesn’t lessen the blow at all. It hits like a punch to the gut and this is on page one. Things only get more intense as the issue goes on.

When Roach slips from reality, the same happens to the images themselves. The panel borders get erratic and jagged, like they were hastily drawn over and over by a compulsive lunatic. This coincides with an abrupt change in tone. Colorist Jasen Smith moves from the bright, Sunday Funnies look to just red and white, signifying the break in Roach’s mind.

This effect appears a few more times throughout this issue, always signifying a case of extreme violence. It’s used when someone lets their anger get the better of them and they lose control of themselves. Although it happens repeatedly, it always comes as a shock.

The comic strip style pops up frequently in Spencer & Locke 2 #4, showing memories of a simpler time in these characters’ lives that parallel the actions in the present. That’s not to say that Spencer & Locke were running from psychopaths with flame throwers in their youth. It’s to show lessons they learned at a young age that help them today as well as strengthening the bond they’ve shared all these years.

Locke’s internal narration guides us through this issue. It reads like a hard-boiled detective novel. Letterer Colin Bell shows the character’s words in caption boxes seemingly ripped from a lined yellow notepad. Melinda’s narration is shown in a similar fashion, although a little neater. That makes sense as she seems to have her life together more than Locke does.

Spencer & Locke 2 builds to an unbelievable climax that left my jaw on the floor. I sincerely hope we get more from this series because this is one amazing ending that leaves the door wide open for so many more possibilities. If it were to end here, it’s still a satisfying conclusion, but I want more from this in the biggest way.

Writer David Pepose breaks the main character down to his base components. Instead of building him back up again, it takes a moment to examine the man he is and the path he has before him. If all Locke has known has been heartbreak and bloodshed, who is he really? What kind of father can he be to Hero? Spencer & Locke will grab you with an interesting, quirky premise and it will pull you in completely with one of the most riveting stories on the stands today. I am in awe of this comic.

Spencer & Locke 2 #4 from Action Lab: Danger Zone is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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