Friday 21 February 2020

ReadItDaddy's YA / Adult Comic of the Week - Week Ending 21st February 2020: "Locke and Key Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft" by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW Publishing)

Currently enjoying a successful run in its first season on NetFlix, I've been re-reading the excellent "Locke and Key" series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.

It's not a new comic but the chance to hoover it up in a ComiXology Sale was welcome, as I stupidly loaned my print copy of this volume to someone at work - who promptly left, taking my precious copy with them (note to self: Never, ever EVER lend your precious graphic novels to anyone - I've lost more that way than through any other means or methods).

So with a hefty "This one's not for kids / parental warning" let's dig into this week's YA / Adult Graphic Novel of the week.

"Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft" sets up the story of a family moving back to their ancestral home after a horrific incident involving the death of their father at the hands of a crazed killer. The three kids and their mum in the story reluctantly move back to Key House - a crumbling gothic mansion on the coast of New England.

Nina (the mother) was injured in the tragic incident, and feels like she owes a duty to her husband to try and keep the family together. The kids (Tyler - the eldest son, Kinsey, the middle sib and Bodie - the youngest) have a mixture of feelings and emotions about being uprooted from their previous lives, but desperately need to escape the gossiping rumour-mongers. They soon find out that even in a completely new town in the middle of nowhere, those rumours aren't left behind...

The graphic novel sets up the genius core mechanic of the storyline early on. Key House is a house of secrets, and also a house where magic exists. Mysterious keys are found, that have special abilities. One key can unlock a door and take you to anywhere else in the world you've ever visited. One door can open up your head like a can of beans, allowing you to delve into your subconscious. Yet another door allows you to become an unseen ghost, drifting around to spy on those around you. There are many, and as the series unfolds, those keys and their abilities become the focus of an ancient evil, a dark character named Dodge / Lucas, who pursues the keys relentlessly, lusting after their power.

Needless to say, when the Locke kids discover the keys, all sorts of things begin to happen. Bodie innocently makes contact with Dodge early on, and promises to return any keys that he finds to this mysterious entity living in the house's old wellhouse. This unlocks a chain of events that will once again put the family in danger from the very person who destroyed their lives previously...

The graphic novel is far more grisly, disturbing and dark than the series (obviously) and though the Netflix adaptation is extremely well done in places, it doesn't quite capture the unsettling atmosphere the comic generates - nor does it satisfyingly capture Nina's descent into self-annihilation, her grief and ragged helplessness at her predicament.

Though we're talking about volume 1 here, the series has a habit of getting you used to a particular character's flaws and strengths before flipping that character on their heads to show their darker and more mysterious side, picked out with Gabriel Rodriguez' amazing gift for character design and expression that really lends a hefty weight to the storytelling.

It's rivetting stuff. Get in on the ComiXology deal and grab these while they're cheap, but if you do go for the gorgeous print versions, never lend them to anyone!!

"Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft" by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez is out now, published by IDW (self purchased, not provided for review).