A couple of nights ago, I was at my local bookstore and came across a hardcover copy of Joe Hill’s Locke and Key V. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft. I knew I wanted to read this series eventually, and since I hadn’t really found anything else that sparked my interests, I purchased it and went home to give it a shot. I didn’t realize at the time what I was getting into.
I am now caught up completely with the story, all the way from Welcome to Lovecraft to Keys to the Kingdom. I have always been a fan of comics, but gave up the individual purchases years ago in favor of waiting until they come out in graphic novel volumes. Locke and Key may be a game changer for me, however, as I am eagerly waiting for late July and the release of Clockworks, the next story arc.
Joe Hill, Bram Stoker Award winning author of Heart Shaped Box, has done a magnificent job juxtaposing the magic and wonder of childhood fantasies and make believe with real life issues (such as racism and alcoholism) and horror. Comic writing isn’t for everyone, but it’s plain to see that Hill knows what he’s doing.
Welcome to Lovecraft, the scene setter of the series, tells the tale of the Locke children (Tyler, Kinsey and Bode) after the brutal murder of their father. They relocate with their mother (Nina) to their father’s family home, Keyhouse, located in Lovecraft, MA. There they find that along with having to deal with the mental and emotional trauma associated with their father’s death, fantasy is made into reality through magical keys that unlock mysterious doors in the house. The keys do a myriad of things, from changing your age or race, to sending you anywhere you wish to go or turning you into a ghost. The old mansion holds much darker mysteries, however, as an evil force connected to Keyhouse seems to be manipulating the actions of Sam Lesser, the teenager responsible for killing Rendell Locke, the children’s father.
Head Games, Crown of Shadows, and Keys to the Kingdom (the other three story arcs so far) continue telling the story of the children as they begin to mature, and continue to dig deeper into the secrets of Keyhouse and the mysterious Omega Key. I won’t really talk about them too much here, because there’s too much to spoil, but rest assured that they are all equally as impressive as Welcome to Lovecraft.
I’ve never been that worried about who drew what I was looking at in comic books. If it looked cool, that’s all that mattered to me. In a story like Locke and Key, however, the art is very important, as detail and mood are everything, and Gabriel Rodriguez does the trick. His work almost mirrors Joe Hill’s writing, in that some of it is very fanciful and magical, and other times it’s dark and horrible. The color work from Jay Fotos is outstanding as well, matching the tone that the two creators of the story have set.
I’ve waited until now to mention that Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son (which most of you probably already know) out of respect for Hill (he deserves the credit for making a name for himself) and to keep away any assumptions of Locke and Key based on King’s work, not Hill’s. I haven’t actually made it through any Stephen King books as of yet (yes, I know this statement will lower my credibility in some folk’s eyes) so I know that I have no prejudices going into this work. Locke and Key sold itself to me by being a great comic, plain and simple. I highly recommend that anyone who is a fan of horror and dark fantasy give this series a try. It definitely has rekindled my love of comics, and I plan on making good friends with my local comic book store because of it.
This will definitely not be the only comic book/graphic novel review I will be making, so expect more soon. I’ll be reading anything I can get my hands on, but I’ll probably center around non-superhero comics (unless of course I find something just amazing). What sort of comics do you read?