★★★★★/★★★★★ Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.
“Death isn’t the end of your life, you know. Your body is a lock. Death is the key. The key turns… and you’re free. To be anywhere. Everywhere. Two places at once. Nowhere. Part of the background hum of the universe.”
I first read this series during October, and for someone that is not the biggest fan of scary stories (mostly film), this one was a fantastic spin. It follows a family after the murder of the father over an event that has correlation to the house they have recently moved in, of course, none of them knows this yet. A spirit from the past comes back to haunt and plot its escape, with the aid of a person from the family’s past, the motive is to find these magical keys forged with iron that allow for various powers, all of which are in the estate known as Keyhouse in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. This comic series, alongside Saga, Chew, and Runaways, led me back to the magical land of comics and graphic novels of V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and Sandman, after a good two years without reading a single one.
“Don’t ever have children, Tyler, unless you’re ready to be afraid everyday for the rest of your life.”
That is great advice, particularly when you have a family like this one which is apparently a magnet for bad things.
Most of the stories focus on Bode, this little guy, the youngest of the siblings, and although it gave the story a nice angle not usually presented in comics, it did not do it for me. He was not someone I appreciated, particularly towards the end, since I only saw him as a nuance, as if his sole role came down to being there for the sake of having a third sibling. But do not be discouraged, I was not a fan of any of the characters, except for the uncle. All the characters here are layered, with personalities, and dealing with the events that happened at the beginning of the story in different ways, some working and some not so much, and trying not to end up the same way as those before them, even if they are committing similar actions. But maybe they do get a different result. The ending, although leaving us satisfied with what led to what and all that, did something that took much from it, and I was not pleased with it. I saw potential in the ending I thought they were going to have, and then they pulled something that simply detracted form the story, but most people like it, so I should not complain much.
“In this world, family is the final, most elemental unit of power. A small group, helplessly bound together by blood with a shared set of skills and tools for consolidating power and subjugating others.”
Family is the most important theme in the series, showing from how loving they are, to just how remorseful and harmful they can be. It shows there are always more than one side to familial relationships.It is not black and white, or rainbows and butterflies, there are many sides to the bond, and the individuals themselves.
This is not the story of the mom who is staying strong for her children after her husband’s death because she feels guilty the marriage was not going brilliant before, nor the story of the eldest daughter cutting her hair and dying it as an act of grief, or the eldest son being tough and sucking it up to get the family out of the gutter, or the little boy that just wants to follows his sibling around. This is the story that takes place after the family gets broken up, when a mother drinks herself into oblivion, while her daughter pretends to be normal and hides her true self so no one will recognize her, and the brother is ridden with guilt over what he did to cause what happened, and a little boy that is trying to make sense of what is going on, while being aided by the uncle that is loving and caring, and the one family member they have left.
“Secrets are the prisons we make for ourselves.”
The characters also experience a lot of PTSD in different forms, which is to be expected, they did survive quite an ordeal. And is not as if the pain they endure does not keep coming back to bite them whenever they think they might be rid of the circumstance.
The art is wonderful, I loved every single page, whether just the characters, or beautiful parts depicting the keys or the inside of someone’s mind. It is definitely the best part.
This is one of the most enjoyable comic series that I’ve read. Everyone will get something different from it. So go at it.Have fun!