Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft

Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft - Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodríguez

After a summer tragedy, Tyler, Kinsey and Bode Locke are brought by their mother to live with their uncle, Duncan Locke, in the family home of Keyhouse in Lovecraft, MA. The Lockes have all been effected differently by the murder of their father, and suffer from anxiety about what will happen now that they've come to live in his old hometown. Tyler's frustration and anger, Kinsey's withdrawal, Bode's genuine childlike unflappability, and mother Nina's retreat into alcoholism, are all presented in such a manner it feels like I've read a few hundred pages of prose instead of 150 or so pages of exposition/dialogue over illustrated panels.

Hill and Rodriguez don't shy away from the gorier aspects of the story. Almost every issue brings a fresh scene of violence. I liked the art, but in the end it is the modern "horror" aspect of the story that I had the hardest time with. Its not comfortable. Damn it. Reading this collection again, and reviewing it now that I've read the whole series, its plain to see that Hill always had the endgame in mind. That fact alone eliminates many of my objections about aspects of the story being gratuitous. At the end of the day this is Hill and Rodriguez's horror comic and as the reader I'm just along for the ride.

The first six issues collected in 'Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft' bring the family full circle and make them face their physical and spiritual enemies head-on, and nothing ends up how you would expect. As for the keys, well, a big part of the book's success is how Hill brings the history of the improbable Keyhouse and of the Locke kid's father out into the open, piece by piece. A major part of that are the various magical keys. Bode discovers the "Ghost Key" by accident on his first day in the house and it leads him to more than he bargains for. In fact, its Bode who's chosen more often than the others for new keys and new magic.

When I first read this I recognized a lot of promise in the series, but I was unsure of how things would end up. So many comics go on indefinitely with no result, or their stories fail to live up to their original promise. That is not the case here. It only gets better moving forward and with each rereading.

Originally read: May 20, 2012

Next: 'Locke & Key: Head Games'