W – David Pepose
A – Jorge Santiago Jr
C – Jasen Smith
L – Colin Bell
An extremely satisfying end to an unbelievably good follow up to a wonderful series. Yup, S&L #4 wrapped up the second volume and it is straight fire (in some cases literally). I mean the city is up in flames and of course Locke’s own situation is about as frying pan as you can get soooooo …
…. here’s the thing though. The trauma and coping with it (or not) angle is where the expertise and shining light of this book sits. WE know that the crucible that formed Roach is about as devastating as it gets. Losing a loved one? Painful. Losing your wife and unborn child while you were a P.O.W. scraping away at survival by ANY means necessary? The character build for Roach has been just as good, if not better, than our beautifully crafted hero team. Why? Being real hits the hardest. The militant lean of Roach already played to a real life issue that society has seen play out over and over again with veterans and service members returning from conflicts. The particularly dark and horror filled experiences that Roach experienced aren’t exactly a “Hollywooding” of real events that prominent public figures have lived and suffered through.
That’s the genius behind Roach. As we’ve been given Locke’s story we relate and he resonates because we get it. We understand. How he’s broken, the effects of being so, and where Locke’s adult psyche comes from make sense. As it’s all come out in the fold though, Roach is no different. Yes he’s violent and is a literal criminal by way of his actions. Why he’s twisted and has become the monster that he has makes sense. Both life and humanity not only turned their back on him, but did everything they could to cause him pain.
The depth of the book shines through as the plot lines are neatly tied up/together (seriously, in four issues how the hell do they do this) without feeling forced. The ability to strike when opportunity presents itself can be just as damning as it is beautiful. The puppeteer manipulating Roach’s strings unfortunately chose the former of those two in a misguided bid to do some good. This revelation helps in securing the fact that no character is wasted or merely filler in the overarching context. Each piece of this puzzle is important regardless of how much panel time it has or hasn’t received.
S&L absolutely nails the landing for this second arc. It serves as a thriller, buddy cop, and noir filled action book all while being an expertly crafted gut punch about the fragility of our psyche. That’s just the tip of an overwhelmingly large iceberg of a book. Seek this one out. It’s that good and you’ll continue to uncover layers with each re-read.