And Then I Read: LOCKE & KEY, HEAD GAMES

© Joe Hill & IDW.

This new fantasy/horror series written by Joe Hill is crammed full of great ideas of all kinds.

First, there’s the Keys, only a select few of which have been uncovered so far. Each key grants the user an unusual fantasy power, and the characters waste no time using and misusing them. The one on the cover unlocks a person’s head…

…opening up a visual landscape where thoughts and knowledge take physical forms that can be moved or removed by reaching in and grabbing them. What a novel concept! The other keys are equally intriguing, like the one that turns the main villain of this story arc, Zack (formerly Luke) from a woman to a man.

Then there are the characters; the Locke family: mother and three kids, their relatives and friends, and the Locke house itself, not to mention the town of Lovecraft, all carefully and skillfully nurtured, made appealing and sympathetic, so that Mr. Hill can do evil, horrible things to them! The villains and minor characters are equally interesting, and there’s a subplot revolving around an earlier generation of friends at the local high school that’s intriguing.

The plot of this story never sits back, it leaps along through one twist after another, and Hill has clearly developed his backstory thoroughly, allowing bits and pieces of the entire picture to fall into place little by little. While the fantasy is fun, the horror largely grows from the dark places in the characters themselves more than from any external threat, making it all the more creepy.

The art by Gabriel Rodriguez is detailed and accomplished. My one issue with it is that the characters all have similar facial features, especially the mouths and chins, which can be distracting at times. Sure, some of them are related, but even those that aren’t seem quite similar. This issue is not unique to Rodriguez, but it’s something I wish he would work on. At times it’s hard to keep the characters straight, they look so similar, and the level of artistic ability shown elsewhere clearly indicates a wider view of humanity’s facial features is within his reach.

That’s a minor fault, overall this is a terrific series, and I can’t wait to read more. Highly recommended!

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