Like some fractured fairy tale, this take on a favorite Sunday comic strip from childhood is bold and nicely twisted. Murder and intrigue have eclipsed the innocence of unbridled youthful imagination.
“When his grade-school sweetheart is found dead, there’s only one friend Detective Locke can trust to help solve her murder — his childhood imaginary panther, Spencer. But when they face a vicious crime syndicate and memories from Locke’s traumatic youth, can this unlikely pair survive long enough to find the truth?”
The blatant “What if Calvin & Hobbes grew up to be hard boiled detectives?” premise is forgivable in that it makes sense in context and never feels like a rip-off. The disturbed boy with an active fantasy life always wanted to be a hero, and for most people maybe joining the murder police is the closest they could get. This story of that boy totally works and if the girl next door he grew up with is mysteriously killed in an alley, well, better still, because it’s easy to feel for the kid, then as now.
Pepose has distilled the darkest essence from Watterson’s classic and in flashback scenes Santiago recreates the visuals into the ominous hints of future horror that we see now in this noir homage.
Well done at every turn, brilliant in its audacity and visually subtle, the moods and terror that were always under the surface have come to light. Great fun and the right kind of creepy, although it makes me rethink how sinister the original really was.