The Fix: Where Beagles Dare reunites the creative team of one of the more entertaining comics in recent memory for a humorous crime story set in seedy modern Los Angeles.
Roy and Mac are a pair of small-time crooks in LA with an old school bent and a penchant for screwing up. They’re also LAPD detectives who are gleefully on the take. They owe a debt to Josh, a nebbishy stay-at-home dad in the suburbs who also happens to be a sociopathic crime lord. To square things with Josh, Roy and Mac embark on a complicated scheme that requires Mac to team up with Pretzels, the LAPD’s top canine officer, who has an impressive string of airport drug detections. Meanwhile, Roy’s moonlighting gig providing security for a spoiled young celebrity goes horribly off the rails. Other characters include Donovan, an unstable movie producer who the boys befriend, and Sheryl, the crooked Internal Affairs officer who is their conduit to Josh.
Writer Nick Spencer and artist Steve Lieber were the demented minds behind the outrageously entertaining Superior Foes of Spider-Man. The duo brings a lot of that sensibility to The Fix, but with the freedom of the creator-owned world, amp it up by several degrees.
The premise of The Fix is certainly well worn territory: corrupt LA cops in a complicated mess. What matters is execution and that’s where the book soars. Spencer has a gift for crafting easy-to-like idiots. Roy and Mac are clearly not good people. And yet there’s something that makes them compelling and cheer-worthy anyway. Spencer infuses enough charm and misplaced optimism into the boys that a reader can’t help but get swept along in their schemes. Spencer plays contrasts quite effectively, like Josh’s dual nature, and has fresh takes on familiar subjects like celebrity culture and modern crime. It all adds up to an extremely entertaining spin on the genre that feels fresh and different.
Lieber, meanwhile, produces some expressive images to complement Spencer’s story. His line work is clean and gentle, giving the pages a soft, lived-in feel that keeps the story moving without suffocating it. His character designs are first rate and he makes rather creative use of the traditional panel grid approach to page layouts. Lieber laces his work with all kinds of inspired visual jokes that you’ll want to give a second look to, to fully appreciate. Colorist Ryan Hill is a strong collaborator, effectively using contrasts between dark and light palettes to enhance the thematic intent of the story. The Fix has an appealing visual identity that works really well with Spencer’s story.
Be advised that The Fix earns its Mature rating. While there is almost no actual sex depicted in this first arc, the book is filled with sex-based humor and profanity. While the approach to violence is mostly cartoonish, a couple sequences might test the tolerance of more squeamish readers. There are also some explicit depictions of drug use. This isn’t a book to let fall into the hands of younger readers.
Overall, Where Beagles Dare is a strong opening arc for Spencer and Lieber’s larger story. The Fix is offbeat, often outright hilarious, and completely entertaining. It’s highly recommended for fans of the duo’s prior collaboration.