Things have been rough for the Locke kids, but no one is taking it harder than their mother.

Title: LOCKE & KEY: CROWN OF SHADOWS #6
Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
Colorist: Jay Fotos
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Editor: Chris Ryall
Publisher: IDW Publishing

Previously in Locke & Key: The Locke family has gone through one hell of a time, first their father was murdered raving lunatic Sam Lesser. In order to find some peace, Nina Locke moved the family to Lovecraft, Mass. to the Locke family home. There, Bode Locke begins to discover keys that can do all sorts of wondrous things if used correctly. The reemergence of the keys also brings forth a ghost from the past in the form of Lucas Caravaggio, who wants to find the Shadow Key and the Crown of Shadows. The Crown unleashes all manner of foul shadow demons upon the children, and it takes a giant sized Tyler to put an end to the madness.

NOTE: Some of you may have received your copy of Locke & Key a few weeks ago, but there was a printing error and only partial orders were fulfilled. Most of us received our copy this past week.

LIVING IN A BOTTLE

I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose a loved one, and have to fight off crazies left and right in order to protect my children. Nina Locke is coping as best she can by finding solace in the bottle. As the series has progressed, we’ve seen her drinking problem progress to the point she is a complete mess in this issue. This is one of those slow build elements that Joe Hill set up in the previous arc, and it becomes the central element in this stand alone issue.

Being the inquisitive kid that he is, Bode discovers another key, but Nina dismisses is as nothing but a key to the medicine cabinet. Having injured himself, and broken several of her things, Nina locks the broken pieces away, thinking the topic of crazy keys has gone far enough. It’s only later when she unlocks the medicine cabinet that the story turns left at the sign post up ahead and enters the Twilight Zone.

Instead of broken fragments, everything is made whole again. Everything she puts in the cabinet – broken chairs, dishes, cnes – all come out fixed and new as if nothing had happened. You can probably guess where this story is going, as in a final fit of frustration and sadness, she places the urn containing the ashes of her dead spouse in the cabinet and hopes for the best.

Hill could have easily turned this into a Monkey Paw story, but fortunately he didn’t go that far. Nina is crushed when the magic doesn’t do its thing – smashing the urn on the bathroom floor, which triggers a huge confrontation between mother and her children. The climatic argument doesn’t end on a happy note.

It’s only when Tyler is cleaning up the mess later that he discovers the Omega Key. The key that could be the One Key That Rules Them All. Let’s just hope it isn’t too late for the family to mend the damage before it is too late.

As a one-shot story it is really odd that it is part of the Crown of Shadows arc, but if one is striving for a six issue trade collection, then this tale certainly belongs as an epilogue to the events that have already transpired. This has to be Hill’s best character development to date, as readers can really feel the pain that the Locke children are going through as they deny, then accept that their mother is an alcoholic and can offer nothing to them. Nina Locke has really stood in the shadows through most of this series, and for her to finally take center stage is a change of pace from the Children In Danger theme we’ve been reading since issue #1.

RODRIGUEZ IS THE NEW JIM LEE

I’m sure that comparison will have a few of you posting in rage or utter support, but no one has been more consistent and on time with the art than Gabriel Rodriguez. Here he takes a once beautiful and happy woman and turns her into a blank ashen shell, who looks like she has nothing to live for. His ability create a blank stare in her eyes from panel to panel is so much better than the blank stares other artists unintentionally create in their characters. The reaction of the children is spot on, and of course there is the detail that Rodriguez fills in each and every panel. He doesn’t draw the cheesecake like many of my other favorite artists, but Rodriquez has proven to be a master of his craft.

BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT! BUY IT NOW!

You’ve heard us talk up this series to no end on the Major Spoilers Podcast, read all the reviews of every issue on the site, and have probably gazed upon the work in our many sneak peeks. What are you waiting for? Buy this issue now! The story gives a nice look at how the other half live, and it really sets up the fact that the children are ready and willing to deal with any and all problems that come their way. Locke & Key #6 is definitely deserving of 5 out of 5 Stars (again).

Rating: ★★★★★

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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3 Comments

  1. morpheus
    July 20, 2010 at 8:31 am — Reply

    I agree. I was really upset a couple of weeks ago when I thought this book was coming out and my comic shop didn’t have it. This is one of the few books that I read as soon as I get it. I have been known to sit in the parking lot of my LCS and read quickly through these books. Yes, they are that good.

    Rodriguez is now one of my favorite artist and I have been going back to look for other work that he has done. I agree completely with the blank stare look that he gives Nina in this book. It is a creepy look and it fits perfectly. Also the detail that he puts into the background is just incredible. There is just enough detail to make you want to look for any hints and foreshadowing that he has hidden in there.

    I recommend it whole heartedly.

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