Sunday Review: Locke & Key Volumes 1 and 2

There was a time in my life when I really liked the horror/slasher genre. I consumed everything. I snuck into the Punch & Pudy movie theater to see Friday the 13th, Halloween, Terror Train, Poltergeist and more. I read the Stephen King and Clive Barker books and read a few comics. But now that I’m older I have fallen out of late. Sure I’ve kept up on it reading 30 Days Of Night and I’m enjoying Hellraiser from Boom! Studios (both the classic Marvel reprints and the new series), but what has me interested in horror and adult violent comics is Locke & Key from Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. If you didn’t know already, Hill is the son of Stephen King.

I should correct myself, Locke & Key isn’t so much horror as it is violent, dark fantasy that is set in the “real world” of Lovecraft, Massachusetts. There is blood, profanity and a bit of sex, so is is not intended for a younger audience. The story centers around a family that has lost there father to a brutal murder and moves out east to a old, mysterious mansion. Keys are found by the kids and they soon open doors to wonder, imagination and even your even head! In every chapter in the first two books, Welcome to Lovecraft and Head Games, I found myself drawn into this strange place and I even had empathy for all the characters, something that isn’t easy for me to do. As with any good tale, secrets abound but with the right key anything can be let out, but some things should be locked away forever.

The extras in these two books are very good. Volume 1 includes an introduction by detective fiction author Robert Crais (Hill Street Blues, Elvis Cole/Joe Pike), a 10 page art gallery by Gabriel Rodriguez, creator biographies, character sketches, and Lovecraft Island and Keyhouse sketches. Volume 2 gets even better with infold sketches of all four faces (north, south, east and west) of the Keyhouse house, an introduction by Warren Ellis, the 6vknows keys including the Omega key, the 12 step process of one page – page 8 from issue #6. I liked the simple description at the end when Rodriguez states, “Repeat 22 times and you get a comic book”. There is also a 9 page art gallery including creator biographies similar to the first book.

There are two more Locke & Key Volumes available; Volume 4 was just released a few weeks ago.

Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft
Collects Welcome to Lovecraft #1-6 (2008)
Volume 2: Head Games
Collects Head Games #1-6 (2009)
Locke & Key
Written by Joe Hill
Art by Gabriel Rodriguez
Colors by Jay Fotos
Letters by Robbie Robbins
$24.99, 152 pages, IDW

Recommended reading:
The Barry Windsor-Smith Conan Archives Volume 1-2
Dark Tower Omnibus and Companion Omnibus Slipcase HC

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