Sunday, August 10, 2014

REVIEW: Locke and Key Vols 1-4 by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

The beautiful art of Gabriel Rodriguez

Volume Titles: Welcome to Lovecraft, Head Games, Crown of Shadows, and Keys to the Kingdom
 Original Publication Year: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
Genre(s): Graphic Novel, Horror
Series: Locke and Key, Vols 1-4
Awards: None
Format: Hardcover
Narrated By: NA

I am relatively new to the world of comic books so keep my eye out for any strong recommendations that float by on the internet.  I’m nervous about jumping in blind.  I don’t remember where I saw the Locke and Key series mentioned but I think I ran across it multiple places under the heading of people’s current favorite series (along with Saga by Brian K. Vaughn).  I’m glad I listened and picked the series up as I am REALLY impressed by it so far. 

I’ve read the first four volumes and I feel already that a lot has happened.  The story centers on the Locke family, particularly the three children – teenagers Tyler and Kinsey and their younger brother Bode.  In volume one a terrible thing happens to the family forcing them to move to the “ancestral” home of their father –Keyhouse.  Keyhouse is a grand old mansion with LOTS of secrets in Lovecraft, Massachusetts.  One of those secrets are the keys they keep finding around the house which do fantastical, magical things like allowing their spirit to leave their body temporarily or the ability to open up one's head and remove particular thoughts or feelings.  The keys make the already beleaguered family a target for a being who has a mysterious but clearly nefarious intention.
While the story is often creepy and fantastical, much of what happens is the family trying to cope with their changed circumstances and figure out their place in the world.  This personal and often emotional (for me at least) component was a serious strength and goes a long way to giving the more fantastical elements extra weight and menace.  I couldn’t help rooting for the Locke’s while also being fascinated by all the creative keys and their functions.  Also, somehow the story manages to be dark AND fun at the same time.  Basically I LOVED the storytelling.  Volume 4 ends with the Locke children finding out who exactly, if not what exactly, their enemy is, only to be hoodwinked in the most awful way possible.

The only other thing to talk about is the art which I have no idea how to talk about.  It’s beautiful with a very detailed and sharp style.  The colors are atmospheric - Keyhouse is appropriately Gothic while still seeming inviting.  The illustration and design of the various keys is a highlight.  I would probably sit down just to read through an illustrated catalog of all the keys thought up as part of this series.  The art definitely enhances the storytelling.

Final Verdict:  It’s creepy and magical and beautiful and I’m totally hooked.

What currently in progress comics series would you recommend?  I'd love to get some more recommendations!

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