Publisher Website: Joe Hill (Author), Gabriel Rodriguez (Artist)
This series is the fun distraction we all need right now. Its one of those that anyone can get into. Mystery, thriller, little bit of fantasy. Its got it all.
Hints of: Stranger Things, IT, Jumanji
Warning: READ THE COMIC BEFORE WATCHING THE SHOW ON NETFLIX!!! Also, massive amounts of PTSD and suicidal tendencies.
Locke and Key is a story of the Locke siblings, Tyler, Kinsey, and little Bode, who, along with their mother, return to their ancestral home of Keyhouse following their father’s gruesome murder. Keyhouse is a place of both wonder and fear, filled with dark doors and the magic keys that open them, and also home to a malicious presence that will stop at nothing in it’s quest for the Omega Key and the unspeakable prize it unlocks.
Locke and Key is one of those modern marvels we are shocked has just been thought of. It tells the story of a very old family who's recently experienced a life altering tragedy. With the mysterious death of their father (mysterious because of what the killer asked before he shot him) we're immediately thrust into a dynamic world of magic and fantasy surrounding a series of keys. Each key has unique capabilities. One can send you to new places if you have a good idea of what that place looks like. One can unlock your head and allow you to put new ideas in...or take some out. And one, that is the ultimate plot to the series, can do something that not even the Locke children can predict.
Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode, along with their mother, move to Lovecraft, MA. Located their is the Locke ancestral home. Bode, being the youngest explores the many doors and quadrants of this massive mansion. Outside he finds an abandoned wellhouse where he encounters an "Echo". This echo is seeking two of the keys, the "Anywhere" key and the "Omega" key. The echo has powers that allow it to travel outside of the wellhouse but seemingly trapped in it all at the same time. For instance, a photo of the wellhouse hangs on the wall of Mr Locke's office. Their the echo is able to manipulate the mind of an unstable child, Sam Lesser. Convincing Sam to help it and locate these keys that Mr Locke hid in his childhood. This is the question posed from Sam to Mr Locke when he shoots him dead in their summer home. Obsessed with helping the echo he continues his killing spree all the way to Lovecraft where he ultimately falls into the echo's trap and dies by use of the "Ghost" key which when in the door allows you to die and become a ghost.
We learn throughout the series about the previous generation of key finders and the sinister plots that were hatched from their powers. I had mentioned this gave me Jumanji vibes because, like that story, when you unlock a key it causes a trigger effect and sends you down paths regardless of the original intent of use. I love this concept and I love finding out the new keys. There are moral dilemmas and ethical questions on the usage of some of these keys. And without the help of adults, which on the one hand aren't much better than the mind of a child but on the other can't be used anyways because adults forget about the keys once they grow up, these children are on their own to make those difficult decisions. The author and artist make you feel like your in this game with the Locke children. Mixing with historical aspects and the mystery of the previous key finders makes this series one of my favorites to read right now.
Gabriel's artwork is intriguing. Its modern and vibrant and the designs of the keys have little hints at what they're capable of and I find that fascinating. There is a character and a key that change the gender of the key bearer. The way she can draw subtle clues to represent that this is the same character we just saw 10 pages ago but in a different body is impressive in my opinion. The best quality of comic and graphic novels is that the pictures and artwork tell another aspect of the words written by the authors. A picture is worth a thousand words after all.
I warn about reading this series before watching the hit show on Netflix for a couple of reasons. 1.) The book is always better. This can't be overstated enough. There are aspects of the book missing from the show that in my opinion are key (pun intended) to the story-line. 2.) Its timed differently. The timeline is weird in the show and some plots come before others in the book that reveal much more early on then it does in the show. Making the book more intriguing. 3.) Characters look different. This is a weird one to harp on but book readers will agree. When your favorite book gets made into a movie or show (Harry Potter comes to mind right about now) the actors and actresses take over those creations you made in your head the first time you read it. That is physically impossible with graphic novels. For example, in the book one of the characters is white, in the show she's black. There are aspects of race that are a factor in the show that you don't get in the novel and detract from the characters story.
I gave this comic 4 stars because the plot is fascinating and the story is amazing. It would've gotten 5 but there are times in the novel where the author seems to take the easy way out of explaining a plot hole. I understand magic is fantastical and doesn't need to stay within the confines of reality. But the audience isn't dumb and we can figure out when something doesn't feel right. That's just a personal gripe of mine with fantasy style stories.
I'll leave you on a high note though to get you hyped back into this book. Hints of Jumanji, with unique keys with different powers, that pans back to the American Revolution, in a creepy old house with lots of secrets, and a massive homicide mystery from a generation prior. Read this book. You won't regret it.
Drink Pairing: The Little Grey Lady