I’ve got a bit of a confession, I really didn’t read many comicbooks when I was younger. While I had a few here and there and did visit a local comic shop (though mostly for the toys), I didn’t pick up reading them regularly until my late 20s. I used to read two or three a night before bed, but recently have slowed down a bit (I’ve been focusing on reading some actual books lately). In those few years, I’ve read roughly 2,000+ floppies but I’m fairly certain Locke & Key stands out as my all-time favourite. I must admit picking second best is very difficult among the others though.
As a side note, you’ll most likely notice all my comicbook recommendations or commentary will not revolve around the superhero theme. When it comes to almost all literature and media I like, I find myself gravitating towards the scifi/horror/fantasy genres more than anything, so it should be no surprise that I enjoy those comicbooksmore than others. That’s just my personal taste though, I know there are some great stories out there that live in the superhero universes and I’ve read a few of them as well from time to time and thoroughly enjoyed some. But it’s just not my usual cup of tea.
Joe Hill’s Locke & Key falls into the horror and tragedy categoriesas it follows the tale of the three Locke kids and their mom who move to an old manor called Keyhouse following the brutal murder of their father. Shortly thereafter, one of the kids discovers a special key in the house with ability to open a door that can essentially make someone a ghost when they pass through it. But this key is only one of many that were forged long ago, all of which have a unique power when used. The keys hidden around Keyhouse are only one of the strange happenings around the manor though, one of the kids also discovers a woman living in a well in the backyard who seeks a specific key from the kids and resorts to haunting them when they are weary about her intentions.
There are many great aspects of this series I’d like to mention I almost don’t know where to start. For starters I’d like to give Gabriel Rodriguez a tip of the hat for the artwork. The best of it I would argue is the facial expression of all the characters, they capture emotions of joy and pain wonderfully which is essential for feeling the connections with the main and side characters. While I’m pointing that out, the emotional rollercoaster you go throughout it all is truly gripping. As I read through it I felt often at the edge of my seat that the villain was one step ahead of the Locke family. With the main characters, and colourful side characters ranging from fairly young to rather old, any reader can connect to at least a few of them and be somewhat moved during the story as well. Something I feel is fairly important when a writer engages any audience.
With a concept like keys that open doors (and other things) the possibilities seem boundless. Hill does a great job of exploring these boundaries by not limiting himself to only have keys open locks, which leads to all sorts of possibilities and ties them in nicely to the main storyline. Additionally, Locke & Key is not limited to the Locke generation the reader sees. A long, dark past of the key origins and how the Locke family became tied to them is explored in great detail both in the main series and in the additional one shot readings enriching the main storyline beautifully. Manly themes are also touched upon such as growing up, love, tragedy, and loss coupled with coping mechanisms.
This is a wonderfully captivating series and my notes above only scrape the surface of a great adventure that will tug at your heartstrings while still utilizing creative horror to keep you entertained. I can say more about it, but I always try to keep my recommendations spoiler free. Also, it’s been a couple of years since I read it so some things may have slipped. However, while I know how the story ends, this is one I will go back and read again in a few years to relive the ride. I’m not just recommending this for comicbook readers, I’m recommending this for anyone who loves a good story.
Fun facts: Joe Hill is the pen name of Joseph King who happens to be Stephen King’s son and Locke & Key is currently being worked on as a TV adaption for Hulu. Also, a pilot was shot a few years back for Fox, though it was never picked up and I don’t believe was ever aired on TV.