Wow. For those that have been reading this blog from the start it’s already obvious what a big fan of IDW’s Locke and Key series I am. For all the others, let me try to explain the genius of this wholly original series by writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez (warning this part contains mild SPOILERS concerning the plot of the first 24 issues): Over the span of four six-issue miniseries the reader learns to know the Locke family, consisting of teenagers Tyler and Kinsey, their inquisitive little brother Bode and their mother. In the first issue of the initial mini-series (Welcome to Lovecraft) the father gets murdered, after which the kids and their mom relocate to the town of Lovecraft, Massachusetts, to inhibit the family estate Keyhouse. In this first series we get to know the characters a bit, for example we learn about brooding teenager Tyler’s guilt about his father’s death. This introduction to the characters however, forms the backdrop of young Bode finding a dark spirit-like ‘echo’ in the well house and ends with him being forced to release this being. Throughout the series we learn about the existence of strange and mysterious keys with magical properties that are hidden throughout Keyhouse. Bode keeps finding these keys and experiments with them. Throughout the course of the series, his older siblings learn about the existence of the keys and use them to their own advantage, as well as to fight the dark force that has been released from the well house. This being is looking for one key in particular, namely the ‘black key’ and does not shy away from killing anyone that gets in his way. While this alone would be enough to produce one hell of a story, the book is elevated even more by the way Joe Hill portrays the characters through believable dialogues and realistic interactions, that make the characters get under your skin. Like the greatest works of fiction, this is not only a book about horror and magic, but more so about emotional interactions.
This issue takes place around Keyhouse in the year 1775. All the characters are new and this initially leads to some confusion about what is going on. We get introduced to some forefathers of the twentieth century Lockes, some familiar locations are visited and a whole lot of explaining gets done. For starters we learn the significance of the drowning cave and the hydraulic pumps, but most importantly we learn the origin of the magical keys.
On the writing side, this issue is pretty wordy and I found the first half a bit hard to get trough. The second half however kept me turning page after page, while an unsettling feeling settled in my gut and my heartbeat steadily rose. Not only do major plot points get some background, also the link to the works of H.P Lovecraft gets made very explicit. Not only do we get a reference to the fabled icy desert plateau of Leng, we even get some chanting of Lovecraft’s language of the Old Ones: ‘Ia! Ia shubniggarauth!’. While this issue left the cliffhanger of the previous volume dangling, it delivered a whole new dimension of terror to the story.
Art wise, things were beautiful as always. I find it hard to describe Rodriguez’ style, but this issue I thought I recognized a bit of Steve Dillon in the earlier pages, a hint of Mike Allred in one of the splash pages and further on a dash of Richard Corbin. I’m not saying Rodriguez is aping these artists! These are just little bits of resemblances I see here and there. All in all a great start to this fifth volume of Locke and Key. Seriously go and buy it!
Art:9 Writing:8.7 Overall:8.9