Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft
Welcome to Week 2 of The Renegade Rack, the weekly column where I look at the best and worst of graphic novels in comic book history. To understand what I am trying to do here, check out last week’s Renegade Rack for a full description. As for this week, I’m not starting off with a minor book, as we are about to look at Joe Hill’s epic comic book series, Locke & Key.
Joe Hill is the son of horror master Stephen King, and it is interesting to note that when King was working on American Vampire, he said that he ready Joe’s work to make sure he was doing things right. He couldn’t have picked a better person to learn from. With Locke & Key, Joe Hill proved that he was not just a great novelist and short story writer, but he could master the art of comic book storytelling as well.
With that said, Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft began the story of the Locke children and their introduction to the world of keys.
Locke & Key starts out with a bang. In Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft, the Locke family is out on vacation and the eldest son Tyler is full of hate for his dad. The two had a major falling out and Tyler lost his summer plans thanks to an argument. Sadly for Rendell Locke, a troubled student tells Tyler that he wants to kill his dad and Tyler offhandedly says that when he does to kill his as well.
That was where tragedy struck because that student, Sam Lesser, did kill his parents and then headed to the vacation spot and murdered Rendell as well. However, before he killed him, he demanded to know where the Anywhere Key and Omega Key was located, something that Rendell refused to divulge.
What Locke & Key does is take us into the lives of the surviving Locke family, with Tyler, his sister Kinsey and the youngest child Bode, and we stay with them as the horrors that ended their dad’s life ends up rushing back into their lives as well.
Joe Hill has to be commended because this first book in the Locke & Key series features the first six issues and the real villain of the story is barely introduced until the end. However, in perfect horror fashion, that villain (Dodge) is manipulating everyone and everything around him/her until finally freed at the end.
Then, when Tyler walks up at the end and introduces his brother and sister to his new best friend Zack, and we see that the evil killer is now entrenched within the Locke family, the dangers to them really sets in.
This first set of issues is brilliantly set up. The character of Sam is perfectly pathetic, which plays well into the future arcs. I also liked the character of Kinsey, although she became a character that I didn’t like as much along the trip in future issues. However, the best character was Bode, the young boy who was seeing all this with wide eyes and a lot less baggage then his older siblings. Bode really is who the audience is asked to follow throughout the horrors that befall this family.
It is Bode that first discovers the keys that are the – well – the keys to the story. He is the first to use a key – the Ghost Key – and then he is the one that Dodge manipulates to free him from the well he is trapped in. There are some dodgy plot devices used, and how Dodge was able to transport the means to escape to Sam is sketchy, since Dodge can’t get out of the well but can seem to pass things on to move the plot.
However, as sketchy as that is, there is no enjoyment taken out of reading this book. Bode is at the perfect age to discover things (think of The Goonies), Tyler blames himself for his dad’s death, Kinsey can’t stop crying and can’t seem to fit in, and their mom starts her road to alcoholism, which means she can’t care for the kids – leaving them on their own.
By the end of Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft, we have met our heroes, have watched as their lives fall apart, met the main villain and his main henchman and saw how the bad guy has infiltrated the family. Things get worse for the Locke’s as the series goes on, but this was a great start.
The keys that are introduced in Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft include the
- Ghost Key – This key turns anyone walking through the door into a ghost who can then set out to find anything in the Keyhouse.
- Anywhere Key – This key allows whoever uses it to travel from one place to another as long as they can visualize it.
- Gender Key – This allows a person to change their gender, which Zack does.
- Head Key – This key was just found at the end of the issue and will be used for the first time in the next book.
Next Week’s Preview
Next week, we continue with the story of Locke & Key with book two in the series, Locke & Key: Head Games. It is here that we see how dangerous Zack really is, how awesome the Head Key is, and we get to know a lot more about the Locke kid’s uncle.
As always, if you have any ideas for books you want to see reviewed in the Renegade Rack or you are an independent comic book creator with a book you would like considered, feel free to get in touch with me either in the comments or drop me an email.
Until next week, keep reading.