Locke has been left for dead after a devastating attack by Roach Riley. He’s unconscious and his mind is struggling to stay active, pulling the detective through a nightmare populated by Nazi snowmen and faces from the past. Meanwhile, his young daughter, Hero, is tracking Roach to try to put a stop to him by herself.
The dream sequence that runs through Spencer & Locke 2 #3 serves as a fascinating character study, digging deep into one of the main characters of this series. In some cases, Locke is literally fighting his past demons. He’s given a chance to fight back and stay alive, but he has to find the motivation to do that. Writer David Pepose delivers a compelling journey that leads up to a somber and eye-opening ending.
These scenes are shown in a lighter shade of blue. Colorist Jasen Smith differentiates these pages from the rest of the book that appears more dark and dreary. Granted, there’s not a lot of happiness in this nightmare, but it’s almost like Locke is slowly moving towards the light as he struggles to hold on to life.
I’m continually impressed by how artist Jorge Santiago Jr varies his style based on the needs of a given scene. We’ve already seen his talents mimicking classic comic strips and those return here, albeit with a much darker turn. Spencer & Locke 2 #3 gives us another glimpse as to the horrors that created Roach Riley yet shown in this cartoony style. Despite this look, it’s still more than a little unsettling. This creates a cognitive dissonance as we’re expecting something more quaint and funny based on the artwork and then the subject matter is anything but.
This disturbing quality extends to Locke’s dream sequence as well with some of the creepiest snowmen ever created. Picture your average snowman, then give them a human-like face. That’s scary enough, but then it’s put over the top by how the faces are contorted, like the snowmen were out in the sun for a little while and melted just a bit.
Letterer Colin Bell mixes up his approach as well, adjusting the word balloons and caption boxes to best exemplify the voice of the characters. The dialogue from the snowmen is shown in a scratchy font in imperfect balloons. Conversely, Hero’s internal narration is in a child-like font in proper case. These are subtle touches that work wonders for the overall reading experience.
Every time I think Spencer & Locke has peaked, another issue comes out and raises the bar. This is a tense read packed with action and excitement, yet balanced with solid character development and a dynamite story. You’ll come for the great premise of a grown man and his imaginary panther friend, but you’ll stay for the introspective and often heartbreaking plot.