In The Run Through, we’ll be looking at completed comic book series, one volume, one week at a time, from the critically acclaimed to the virtually unknown. The goal is to provide our readers with something new to bite into. This isn’t a review, it’s barely a recommendation. It’s an informal glance at comics that made it to their final issue, and we want to read the stories arc by arc, as they were ultimately intended to be consumed. While there may be minor spoilers, any major developments will be vaguely referred to, so don't worry. No stars, no bashing, just what we did and didn’t like. And yes, we want to hear from you too.
Joe Hill is the son of some famous dude whom you’ve most definitely heard of. But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft, created by Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez. This is the story of the Locke family who, following a despicable tragedy, moves to the Keyhouse mansion in the darling town of Lovecraft. The mansion has a past, as well as magnificent doors and keys with transformative powers.
Initially, I was expecting a story with terrible monsters and haunting scenarios that would make my blood curdle. For violent creatures to, quite literally, rip families, visitors, and anyone else apart. What I got instead was a story of healing. Change can be terrifying, especially when that change becomes the focus of everyone around you. For the three children in this story, Ty, Kinsey, and Bode, this rings especially true.
What Hill does in his script is magnify teenage and parental fears to an astounding level. The kids wonder about issues that may seem small, but can have a massive impact on their young lives. Was what I said what I really meant? What if people don’t know me for me? Why doesn’t anyone ever believe me?
The mother, Nina, also faces challenges in the form of multiple wine bottles. As a survivor, and like Ty, she sees herself at fault for what happened. Duncan, her brother in law, isn't focused on in this volume. And that's fine, since the focus should be on the family at this point. But knowing there's probably more to him and seeing how he reacts to his new family will be interesting, especially with Nina. In fact, there are already glimpses of a filtered relationship needing exploration. Good thing it's still early.
Rodriguez has a penchant for eyes and bodies. Through uncomfortable body positions and dynamic eyes, Rodriguez’s art gives us a past that Hill’s script merely suggests. An early scene with Nina and Duncan on a bench lingers, begging for more interaction between the two. There are plenty of segments devoid of dialogue, where narration relies solely on the eyes. Yet other times the eyes tell us nothing at all, such as with psychopath Sam Lesser’s soulless gaze. Throughout the first volume, we see Sam perform violent and sometimes degrading acts while maintaining a blank, emotionless stare.
Hill also moves the characters so well. Hesitation, doubt, and rage compliment his pacing and allows for the readers eyes to flow across the page organically. This first volume explored the immediate Locke family with precision, initializing character arcs and letting us know what the characters want for themselves. Despite so much happening in this issue, in terms of story and character, it still feels like you just stepped into the mansion’s door. In the end, I want so much more. The house is intriguing, the characters are sympathetic, and Zack is…well, at this point we don’t know anything about him (her?), but hopefully you can join me in getting some answers in Volume two, Head Games next week.