Locke & Key #1 (IDW Publishing)

locke-header.jpgAward-winning horror writer Joe Hill, author of the best-selling novel Heart-Shaped Box and the son of Stephen King, makes his comics debut with this truly original new horror series.


32 pgs.full color, $3.99
(W: Joe Hill; A: Gabriel Rodriguez)


Best-selling writer Joe Hill’s first issue of the comic series Locke & Key shows a lot of promise. In fact, don’t even read this review. Stop everything you’re doing and go run and get both issues 1 and 2 (the second issue was just released on March 5th) at your local comics purveyor. That’s how good it is—and it isn’t just me who thinks so. The film and television rights of this 6-part series have already been snapped up by Dimension Films.

So what is it that makes this story so special? Well, for one thing, it’s an interesting twist on a "family-moves-into-a-spooky-old-house" story, with dare-I-say, an original premise. It also has the perfect marriage of Hill’s award winning writing and Gabriel Rodriguez’s distinct and striking visual storytelling.

The cover to the Locke & Key #1. Click for a larger image.The story begins with a moth, a Death’s-Head Hawkmoth to be exact (think Silence of the Lambs), fluttering by a mysterious door. The moth, most commonly associated with death and the supernatural, is a perfect way to usher in this story, since a brutal murder serves as the catalyst that uproots the Locke family to an eerie family estate named "Keyhouse" in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. You can never trust a "house with a name" and Keyhouse is no exception. It quickly becomes apparent that there are supernatural forces at work when the youngest brother, Bode, has a haunting other-worldly experience…

Bit by bit, through subtle writing, cleverly designed flashbacks and thoughtful page composition, the events of the murder are revealed in graphic detail. Rodrguez’s art is very stylized, in a twisted Disney-esque sort of way…let’s just say it takes some getting used to. The characters are very wide-eyed and emotive, which serves the story well since the visuals do much of the talking. Rodriguez expertly captures grief, fear, and even inquisitiveness without missing a beat, and it’s clear that this project was a true collaboration.

Locke & Key #1 gives us a glimpse into the family’s darkest hour right from the start, and we meet the characters while they’re dealing with their toughest emotions. This emotional attachment really hooks in the reader and leaves you wanting more. There also seem to be plenty of nods to other horror greats sprinkled throughout the book, and it’s obvious that Hill isn’t afraid to acknowledge talent. If anything, he has a lot of experience with horror, being the son of writer Stephen King. You can tell that he knows how to craft a story.

The 6-issue format makes this story totally digestible without the threat of it spinning wildly out of control and getting off track. If issue # 2 builds off the groundwork of issue #1, we’ve got ourselves a real winner. I can’t wait to see more. | Stephanie Richardson

Click here for a 5-page preview of Locke & Key #1, courtesy of IDW Publishing!

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