Thursday, October 5, 2017

Locke & Key Free Comic Book Day

Halloween 2017 Post-A-Day, Day 5:
Locke & Key Free Comic Book Day

Just give in and buy all of them

Writer – Joe Hill
Art – Gabriel Rodriguez
Colors – Jay Fotos
Letters – Robbie Robbins
Editor – Chris Ryall
May 2011

This book doesn’t need my review.

It is the brain child of Joseph Hillstrom King, son of famed horror author Stephen King, who goes by the pseudonym of Joe Hill. Joe is already a fine published author of four books including “Horns,” which  Mandalay Pictures developed into a very interesting movie starring Daniel Radcliff. Hill also has several comics to his credit and this very series won three Eisner, was nominated for two others and won two British Fantasy Awards.

The art throughout the books run was provided by Gabriel Rodriguez, an exceptional artist, with one notable exception, a single issue that was penciled by none-other than “Calvin and Hobbes”'s Bill Waterson.

The storyline is violent and engaging, the characters rich and unique, and the Lovecraft references frequent enough to wet this fanboy’s panties.

So what are you waiting for?

Nothing. You are waiting for nothing. Go now and pick up Welcome to Lovecraft, the first volume. You can thank me afterwards.




What? Still here? Okay. Fine. I get it. Things are tough. Money’s tight.

Here, let me show you via 2011’s Free Comic Book Day what you are missing. This issue is a reprint of a section of the volume called Crown of Shadows, showing a conflict between our villain, named Dodge, and our three under age protagonists: Tyler – 18, Kinsey -16, and Bode – 7.

Dodge may be some ancient malevolent evil, as far as the audience knows at this point. He’s seeking an artifact of immense arcane power called the Omega Key. The action takes place in a mansion that is the ancestral home of the Locke's, a place known as Keyhouse. Our three children and their mother have retreated there after the death of the Father of the family, something orchestrated by Dodge toward some nefarious end.

Keyhouse is special. Hidden throughout the house are special magical keys. Only children can remember the effects of these keys, once their properties are uncovered. As we open the book, Dodge has found a key and a special "lock" he thinks will gain him the Omega Key, an item Tyler has hidden away until they discover what it does.

And that "lock", ladies and gentlemen, is the titular “Crown of Shadows.”

Dodge puts the key in place and with a little Simon & Garfunkle, we are off. I’m going to keep this review as free of clutter about the art as possible, but know that I think Rodriguez is PERFECT for the gothic tone and structure of this series.

The unlocked crown allows Dodge to control shadows and make them assume any shape he wishes.

Shapes that are surprisingly solid. He first assumes a shape that the children will recognize as dangerous, but won’t associate with him. When the Locke children found Dodge, he was a girl trapped in the well on the family property. 

Using a different magic key, he changed his look and his sex. Now he uses the shadows to take on this shape again.

First he uses his shadow power to menace the older children, hoping to restrain Kinsey…

…and then knock out Tyler.

Using shadow magic, Dodge, in the guise of the “Dark Lady,” suspends Tyler from the ceiling. Tyler puts on a brave face though.

His resistance earns him a wound on the ear. An opening gambit to show she means business and maiming or even killing Tyler are options she is open to.

Meanwhile Kinsey is fighting her own shadow monster, a demon that looks like Kinsey’s inner fears. Read the second volume in the book series called “Head Games” if you want to understand the reference Dodge is making here.

Nevertheless, it appears she is out of the picture for the moment…or is she?

An inspired grab in her desperation nets her a flash beacon on her safety jacket. The light from which dispels the shadow monster in waves enough for her to escape.

She makes for the stairwell looking for her brothers.

Tyler is being questioned by the mute Dark Lady, the answer to his question clearly being that if Dodge talked his subterfuge would be for nothing. What is clear is that the Dark Lady wants two specific keys.

Things are going so well for Tyler in this interrogation.     

Kinsey meanwhile has rescued Bode and using the flash, has made it outside. They race away from Keyhouse hoping to find safety.

Her escape draws out Dodge/the Dark Lady and he makes a fatal mistake by pulling in all his power to pursue Kinsey.

Marshaling his forces this way is a mistake that frees Tyler before he is completely incapacitated.

And while Dodge forms a giant shadow wolf-headed warrior to catch the fleeing Locke children, Tyler pulls up a key he has yet to use. A giant woodenish thing that appears to fit a lock in a nearby window. What he hopes to accomplish is anyone’s guess.

Well, I think we now know what that key does.

Prepare yourself for one of the BEST on-panel battles ever. Let’s get ready to Ruuuummmmbbble!

The Dark Lady is vanquished and the Crown of Shadows captured, but Dodge gets away to try again another day with his identity still hidden from the Locke children.

But whatever happens, they will face it together.

So, what’d yah think? Hello?


Oh, I see you’ve stepped out to your local retail outlet to pick up the first trade. Smart fella. I’ve always said that about you.

Enjoy! And let me know what you thought of it in the comments.

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