This Essential October Comic has been hailed as an immediate classic, and is one of the most intriguing titles on the shelves today.
4. Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Locke & Key is an incredibly fresh twist on the classic ghost story – and so much more. It concerns the Locke family – mom Nina, sons Tyler and Bodie, and daughter Kinsey – who flee to the family’s Massachusetts estate after their father is killed in a brutal attack. The estate is called Keyhouse, and it’s a central character in the story – a rambling old mansion that holds many secrets within its towers, spires and endless rooms. It is in Keyhouse that the remaining Lockes try to piece their shattered lives back together, but there are forces gathering against them, old ghosts with old business that needs tending to…and then there are the keys….
Bodie, the youngest Locke, is the first to discover the keys, and the strange powers they grant. Some open doors that lead to out-of-body experiences; some give the users a literal peek inside their own minds. But these aren’t mere gimmicks, as Hill masterfully weaves the keys and their powers into the larger story without making them the focus. In fact, there are many elements at play here, and Hill juggles each one expertly, making sure they feel natural and organic and important to the overall picture.
And while we’re talking pictures, let’s go ahead and praise the artwork of Rodriguez, who turns in striking imagery in each issue. Rodriguez is a master of details, whether it’s drawing facial expressions that convey as much emotion and meaning as those on a living person’s face, or the beautiful and imposing architecture that makes up Keyhouse, or the feral and savage demons that sometimes come out to play. This work cements his reputation as one of the best working artists today.
I haven’t really scratched the surface of the story, and that’s by design. Hill has been careful not to give away too much at one time, just as he’s been careful not to hold too much back. It’s truly an amazing piece of storytelling, and deserves to be discovered as the author has written it, rather than in a clumsy bit of blog exposition.
Locke & Key comes to us from IDW, and is available in a variety of trade paperback and hardcover editions. Track them down, and then feel free to come back and thank me later.