'Keys to the Kingdom' is where 'Locke & Key' misses a step. The big reason was also one of the most creative risks the book has made - Bill Watterson.
It was a brilliant move: Watterson's lines are pure nostalgia, what better to illustrate Bode's innocent outlook, and then constrast it with the traumatizing violence of Dodge that Rodriguez has been doing so well? The transition between artists was well-handled, with just enough overlap to emphasize the point. My problem with it as a reader was in how it took me out of the story.
The plot kicks forward in these issues, with a barrage of attacks from Dodge that leave Tyler, Kinsey and Bode at a loss to explain what's happening to them. After the titanic battle against the shadows last volume, Hill doesn't need to get into the nitty-gritty of each battle. I was left intrigued by the new keys without having to go through a bunch of pages that don't change the status quo. Hill has enough balls in the air that the story didn't need those fights fleshed out.
Teddy bears though. That might have brought on some 'Akira' flashbacks.
The story and art are still superb. I can deal with the violence. 'Squadron Strange' was great development of Rufus and Sam's characters, but there was still the problem with the blue-collar knee-jerk racists. Scratch out my comments about Watterson, a change in art doesn't take me out of the story, trying to fold those kind of stereotypes into a horror comic took me completely out of the story. I liked the nod towards the politics of race. The biggest talking point aside from Watterson is going to be the ending - it doesn't leave much room for the endgame, so know that the next two volumes are going to be a bumpy ride.
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