Review: ‘Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft’
Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft
By Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
IDW Publishing, October 2008, $24.99
Horror in comic books have always been an uneven affair. These days, horror comics tend to feature zombies or H.P. Lovecraft adaptations but there’s so much more that can explored. Fortunately, Joe Hill doesn’t mind going where others fear to tread.
His [[[Locke & Key]]] miniseries at IDW was a chilling affair, as much for its fresh take on the supernatural as for the superb art from Gabriel Rodriguez. The six issues are collected today for the first time in a handsome hardcover volume that comes well recommended.
Too often horror offers you stock characters in a stock situations and how A Meets B is about the only variable. You tend not to care a whit for the hero or victim and too often gore for gore’s sake overwhelms the storytelling. Hill, instead, takes his time setting up the characters, the Locke family, and as wee progress through the 158 pages, we learn things. As a result, we get to care for the three children whose father dies at the story’s beginning. There’s Ty, the eldest who is conflicted over the father he had come to hate; Kinsey the young teen figuring out her place in the world and young Bode who becomes our focal point.
After their father is killed, Nina takes her children to live with her brother-in-law at Keyhouse in Lovecraft, MA. The large ramshackle property comes complete with a well house and its while visiting there that Bode comes in contact with a spirit. The growing relationship truly begins our story as the secrets of the Locke family and their connections to the other residents of the small island town are doled out in bite-sized chunks.
One of the killers winds up freed and comes looking for a key, guided by Bode’s spirit who has an agenda of its own. As a result, the terror grows in importance and the pace picks up in cinematic style. By then, though, we have come to know our cast of characters, even the 17-year old killer, and are emotionally involved so the thrills have impact.
Hill could not have done this alone since Rodriguez brings the characters and setting to life. Everyone has a distinctive look and Keyhouse is well designed to be unique without creepy. Jay Fotos’ colors go a long way to helping Hill and Rodriguez evoke a mood from scene to scene.
It is not often we’re treated to something fresh in our comics so this title comes as a welcome respite from secret crises and the twentieth variation on zombie attacks. The hardcover comes with character designs and an introduction by fellow novelist Robert Crais. It comes at a good time, introducing newcomers to the Locke family before the second miniseries arrives this January.