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31 Days of Horror: LOCKE & KEY

About the worst decision a family can make after suffering a terrible trauma is move to a creepy manor house in a town named for one of America’s most famous horror writers. Like most bad decisions, though, it is a wonderful start to a great horror story. This is the beginning of Lock & Key from IDW Publishing, the bloody labor of love from writer, Joe Hill, and artist, Gabriel Rodriguez.

The Story

Noted horror novelist, Joe Hill, here follows in the long horror tradition of wrecking seemingly idyllic family life. After a summer vacation ends in tragedy, the Locke family move to their ancestral home, Keyhouse Manor in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. The family is emotionally scarred. Nina, the widow, is visiting the wine cellar a little too often. Tyler, the oldest son, is overwhelmed with guilt. Kinsey, the middle daughter, sheds her outward self-expressions and becomes withdrawn. Only Bode, the youngest boy, retains any innocence and is actually enjoying his new surroundings.

Then the kids start to find keys around the estate. Each key has a different magical function. As the Locke children use the keys for fun and for personal gain, questions arise about the where the keys came from and what their real purpose is. As questions about the family’s history are answered and replaced by more questions, tragedy hits the family again from without and within. Along with the menace of the power of the keys, the Locke family has to deal with its own personal demons.  As the mysteries deepen, family friends and acquaintances are pulled into the drama; sometimes with grave consequences. By the end, practically no one is left untouched by the horrors of Keyhouse.

The Art

Gabriel Rodriguez is skilled at drawing the realistic and the unrealistic, and here the two mix wonderfully. Buildings, trees, vehicles, and practically anything inanimate are all drawn with precision and great attention to reality. Humans, and some animals, are exaggerated with nigh cartoonish features. This is not to say that the people all look funny. The exaggerations are for deliberate effect making characters’ moods and emotions easy to read here on the other side of the fourth wall.

Rodriguez proves an even more versatile artist in the first chapter of Volume 4 of the series with a touching tribute to Calvin and Hobbes creator, Bill Watterson.

Overall

Collected in 6 volumes from IDW, Lock & Key is a truly standout comic book. A tragedy and a bad decision lead to more tragedies and more bad decisions, with some surprising notes of hope. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez have crafted a horror tale with compelling incidents and mysteries precisely fitted together and a definite ending that leaves nothing unresolved nor the reader unsatisfied.

4.5 out of 5 stars

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cover image via

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Jean-Pierre Vidrine hails from the small town of Ville Platte, Louisiana. He started collecting and learning about comic books at the age of 9. He got his Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Louisiana State University. He now lives in Chicago with his wife and cat.

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Categories: Comic Reviews

Author:Jean-Pierre Vidrine

Jean-Pierre Vidrine is a Chicago transplant whose interests include comic books, nostalgia, tattoos, drag, just plain being allowed to be himself. He does his best to be a thoughtful writer.

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5 Comments on “31 Days of Horror: LOCKE & KEY”

  1. 10/05/2014 at 2:28 PM #

    Hey! Cool review!

    I’ve been looking forward to read this graphic novel and this is just the final push I needed. Especially because of October and your review, so thanks!

  2. 10/05/2014 at 9:12 PM #

    Thank you for your kind words! You’ll love the series.

  3. 10/06/2014 at 1:23 AM #

    I love this series so much. I remember checking the internet at least once a week to see when the last TPB was coming out because i couldn’t wait. And i have to agree, your review was very well done as well. Good work!

  4. 10/06/2014 at 9:54 AM #

    Thank you! I got interested in it after the Free Comic Book Day special. Luckily, my book club had the first few collections in hardcover. Much like you did, I would keep up with releases on the internet and check the club’s monthly catalog for the next volume.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Best of 2014 Review Wrap-up: Jean-Pierre | Another Castle - 12/05/2014

    […] 4. LOCKE & KEY Review […]

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