Locke and Key

I’ve been a bit weary of many comics these days.  I’m on the lookout for something new and interesting.  Locke and Key fits.

An IDW comic by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, it follows the travails of the Locke family while they sojourn at Keyhouse.  I’ve read the first two arcs and the fifth is now seeing serialization.  The first arc is almost straight up horror.  The second has more of a Grant Morrison tinged weird fantasy touch.  The first arc was suspenseful and scary and horrifying.  The second wasn’t quite as good, but features some just stunning visual metaphors.

Bode, Kinsey and Travis are the Locke children.  The comic opens with a pair of psychopaths attacking first their parents and then the children.  As a result the family moves back to their Dad’s childhood home – a mansion on a promontory called Keyhouse.  In addition to their Uncle Duncan, Keyhouse contains doors, keys, locks and mysteries.  Including a malevolent spirit in the wellhouse.

The first arc plays as a children in peril horror story.  It works well both due to the creepiness of the house, the implacability of their tormentor and the fact that they DO go to adults for help.  I’m often annoyed at this type of story because the kids never do the obvious and tell an adult or parent of the threat.

What makes this work?  The characters are well drawn – in multiple sense of the word.  They are distinct and interesting.  They have backstories, emotions, and beleivable reactions.  The Locke kids in particular seem like the kind of people you might like to know.

The mysteries of Keyhouse are intriguing and fantastic.  The core conceit is that there are keys that allow for incredible events if used properly.  The number, kind and true purpose of the keys and the house is the central mystery driving the series.  The house, the keys and their effects are all portrayed niftily.  The normal people and events are shown in a cartoony, but grounded style.  The fantasy sequences are just fun and astounding.

A horror comic isn’t for everyone.  But if you have any interest in the genre…Locke and Key is just awesome.


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