Or – “I Always Liked His Dad’s Stuff…”

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So, there are a lot of comics being printed these days, in a lot of different genres, and even I (with a pretty large budget and a tiny bit of discount) can’t afford to follow them all.  This is one of the books that I regret not getting in on the ground floor of…  I guess I had the same misconception here that I did about ‘The Umbrella Academy,’ that we were looking at a case of stunt-casting to sell books.  Turns out that pigeonholing this book caused me to miss a story that, in retrospect, was worth my time and effort.

LK1.jpgPreviously, on Locke & Key: The Locke family has moved to the small town of Lovecraft, a creepy little New Hampshire village, and has taken up residence in “Keyhouse,” a mansion filled with doors and strange doings.  Their move was predicated by an attack on their family by an axe-wielding maniac called Lesser, a loony in the truest sense of the word, who killed the Locke family patriarch, and then murdered his way across the country to track them all down.  Now, Lesser has one of the Locke children held hostage, demanding two of the keys to Keyhouse: one called the Key to Anywhere and one called the Key to The Black Door, and he’s ready to kill every last one of the family to get them, the better to serve his mysterious master…

The first page of this issue throws us right into the story, as Sam Lesser threatens the oldest Locke child, Ty, raving about the keys that he wants, but Nina Locke shows her mother and badass sides at the same time.  “I’ll tell you simple,” she says.  “If you hurt my children, Sam, I will kill you.”  Sam makes it clear that she will shoot her son, and Nina seemingly caves, telling him that the keys are in the dresser in her bedroom, and tells Ty to help him “get what he needs.”  The killer heads upstairs, holding Ty at gunpoint, and Nina reveals her plan.  “That’s where the gun is…”  It’s a really intense scene, and I can feel the mother’s concern and rage in every panel…  Nice work, there.  As they leave, the ghostly form of Bode, the youngest Locke, appears through a mirror, desperately searching for the lost Anywhere Key.  No matter how he tries, though, he ends up at his injured sister’s side, until he realizes that the key is hdden in her bracelet…

Upstairs, Lesser makes some really unpleasant jokes, while Ty tries to figure out why he killed Ty’s father in the first place.  Ty doesn’t make much headway, though, and when they reach Nina’s bedroom, Lesser starts going through her underwear drawer and perving out…  Ewww.  Unfortunately, being right by the dresser means that he has a clear view of the mirror, allowing him to see Tyler go for mom’s gun.  Worse than that?  Lesser reveals that his own gun was unloaded the entire time, but now he has one with bullets in it.  (It’s a really nice moment, and it made my blood run cold…)  Before he can do anything about it, though, Ty makes a run for it, and gets strangled for his troubles.  The killer is dissapointed to think that his quarry died so quickly, but we see Ty’s apparition, like Bode’s floating in the air.  Bode takes the Anywhere Key to a mysterious woman locked in a corner of the house, who reveals that Papa Locke put her behind bars years ago, and uses the key to escape her captivity.  “You said you’d make him stop,” cries Bode.  “You promised, remember?”  He pulls open the door she just walked out through, only to find an broom closet…

The creature (I’m not sure what she is) pulls out a key with the male and female symbols interlocked, and transforms herself into a male body, while Ty watches disembodied as Lesser tells his mother that he’s dead.  Tyler thinks back to Bode talking about “the magic door” that allowed him to become a ghost, and suddenly ends up back in his own body.  It’s a very tense moment, as the killer tries to take out sister Kinsey.  Ty tackles him, causing him to drop his gun, but Lesser gets the upper hand.  He raises a shovel to kill the eldest Locke again, but Kinsey recovers his gun and shoots him.  Lesser runs away into the endless corridors of Keyhouse, only to meet the newly male ‘Thing From The Closet.’  He recognizes the creature as his mysterious master, but only gets a snapped neck for his troubles.  “I’m doing this because I love you,” says the reeeeally creepy transgender, “I’m the only one whose ever loved you, Sam.”  She throws his body out the door, then disappears through a door.  We see him appear somewhere else, telling another acolyte that she owes him…  “I killed your mother for you.  It’s really the least you can do.”  The Lockes recover from the attack, and a few weeks later, are almost back to normal when the creature returns, introducing itself as Zack, a new kid in town.  As Kinsey and Ty show him around, Bode’s fishing rod pulls up another mysterious key…

This was a really taut story, from the first page, with a really nice internal mythology and a tone of pure creepiness that works wonders…  I’m not sure that Joe Hill would be thrilled by the comparison, but his word choice and structure really remind me of his father (Stephen King, for those not in the know.)  The voices of the kids feel like kids, and there’s a very clear tone to Sam Lesser’s dialogue that shows how unhinged the bastard actually is.  The art, by Gabriel Rodriguez, reminds me of Phillip Bond, in a very good way.  It’s clean, expressive and clear, with the familial ties of the characters showing through in their character designs, and the creepy architecture of the house serving as an additional character in the story.  It’s not my usual cuppa tea, but it’s a very well done gothic horror/suspense story, with a nice ending, and an ominous Rod Serling bit at the end that sets up the next Locke & Key series, down the line.  Compelling story, good art, and a very nice package (this issue has a thick cardstock cover with a matte finish) sets up Locke & Key #6 as a 4 out of 5 star effort.  I was pleasantly surprised by this book, and recommend the upcoming trade to those of you that missed it…

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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