© Joe Hill and IDW, LLC.
Sitting next to writer Chris Roberson in San Diego, we were talking comics, and he raved about this new series, and its writer Joe Hill. “The guy can do anything, he’s already won awards for his horror writing, and now he’s doing comics. I wanted to hate it, but instead I was very impressed.” (Chris, forgive me if I’ve just put words in your mouth, but that was the gist of it.) I had to get the collection and read it after that endorsement, and I completely agree.
LOCKE & KEY is a story of horror on several levels, and takes place in a well-thought-out world where all kinds of unexpected things are connected to an island with a large, mysterious house on it. A house with doors that lead to all kinds of dark adventures, uncanny places and supernatural powers, each door with its own special key. But the story doesn’t begin there. It begins in modern-day California with a psychopath murdering the father of the Locke family who are the main characters. How’s that for a start, murdering one of the leads right away? Then we follow the children and their mother, plus friends and relations. as they try to put their lives back together. Ultimately they decide to move to the spooky old Locke family home in the town of Lovecraft, on an island off the New England coast, retreating from their trauma, or so they think. Unfortunately, it’s only beginning, as an evil spirit of sorts befriends the youngest boy, Bode, and tricks him into freeing her. Meanwhile, the psychopath who killed their father escapes from prison and heads right for Lovecraft. Somehow he knows where they are…! While the opening was a bit confusing, once Hill filled in the back story, I found this series gripping and terrific, hard to put down. The characters are fine, but what I like most are the depths of background behind them, and the enticing premise of the ultimate spooky house, one that may eventually rise to the level of Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” and Robert Bloch’s “Hell House.”
The art by Gabriel Rodriguez is detailed and accomplished. I found the figures a bit too stylized in general — they have a somewhat cartoony feel and finish that works against the realism of the backgrounds — but once I got used to that I was able to mostly overlook it and enjoy the art as part of the story.
I think Rodriguez’ strength is in his architectural and atmospheric surroundings most of all, and the design of the house and the keys is particularly well done. His storytelling is fine, too.
Great stuff, highly recommended, and if there’s more, I’ll be getting it!