Review: Locke & Key #1
You can understand why Joe Hill waited so long to publicly acknowledge that his father is famed writer Stephen King. For several years, Hill used that shortened version of his name (Joseph Hillstrom King in full) so that he could test himself in the fantasy/horror writing world without the spectre of his father lurking about.
Now jumping into comics for the first time with the new series Locke & Key ($3.99), Hill saw that experience affected by the elder King even before Locke & Key #1 hit shelves. While publisher IDW didn’t promote the famous father angle, it didn’t stop some such as Rich Johnston from playing up that lineage as a bit of comics speculating.
Those who actually read the book and didn’t just seal it away in plastic to put up on eBay at a later date were treated to a very good first issue that succeeds in areas a lot of novelists-cum-comics writers fail. That is, Hill clearly understands the medium. He knows when to rein in the verbiage and let artist Gabriel Rodriguez drive the story.
The narrative is split in three parts: the teenaged protagonist Ty witnessing his father’s murder, sobbing through the funeral and relocating to a spooky house in the ominously named town of Lovecraft, Mass. Aside from a few awkward transitions, the story runs seamlessly.
First issues, of course, are incredibly difficult to do well, making it all the more surprising that in his first 32 pages of comics, Hill establishes a great deal of depth to his characters and lays out a handful of intriguing plotlines to follow. The last few pages are particularly effective, as Hill takes what was previously a down-to-earth story and shifts to a more supernatural paradigm.
It’s a series to watch, even if you aren’t just looking to make a buck.