IDW Publishing fills the need for more Locke & Key stories with this week’s release of Locke & Key: Grindhouse. Major Spoilers couldn’t wait to read the issue, and share its review with you.

Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
Colorist: Jay Fotos
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Editor: Chris Ryall
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Locke & Key: Keyhouse has stood for over two hundred years, and for all that time, generations of the Locke family have watched over it and guarded its secrets. This ancient manse is the repository for a fast collection of unlikely keys, capable of unlocking the impossible. Keyhouse is a place of many doors, long shadows… and stories…


For the regular series, there is only one more arc to go before the entire story is over, but this one-shot gives fans a chance to explore the expanded universe created by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. With a title like Grindhouse, one should know right away that Mr. Hill is going to serve up a story that is a bit more intense than what we’ve seen before. If you think that is hard to imagine considering some of the horrors we have seen before, the opening page features cops getting their heads blown off, women being assaulted, and a gangster get away that is on par with anything Edgar G. Robinson would have attempted in his features.

In this book, a trio of gangsters needs to escape Lovecraft, which means they are headed to the most remote spot – Keyhouse. The gangsters in this issue are some of the worst characters I’ve seen, and for those who are offended by strong language, Mr. Hill doesn’t hold back. The criminals need to hang out until after dark, which follows a premise similar to something found in Key Largo, but this is Keyhouse, and everyone – adults included, use the power of the keys and the house to turn the tables on the thugs. This is an interesting turn in the mythos of Keyhouse as we’ve seen adults forget about the power of the keys in previous stories, Fortunately, reading the extra material from the main story reveals there is a key that disables an adult’s ability to perceive magic. Mr. Hill and Rodriguez do hint at another one-shot coming “someday” called Battleground that will address that issue, and I’m already counting the days until that tome arrives.

Even though some of the family members come out battered and bruised, the method and way the thugs are dispatched reminds me of the Vault of Horror stories from just before Dr. Wertham launched his witch hunt on the industry. To be honest, it’s slightly disturbing and contrasts from the more teen oriented horror adventure seen to date. This one-shot really reads more like Welcome to Lovecraft, which is still one of the best in the oeuvre.

If you are looking for a bit of inside awesome information – at one point, the thugs marvel at the Locke’s new Buick 8. “From a Buick 8” is a novel by Joe Hill’s father, Stephen King, which is based on Bob Dylan’s “Buick 6”, which itself draws inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft’s “From Beyond.” Welcome to Lovecraft, y’all!


It’s been a few months since I’ve been able to read a Locke & Key book, so seeing Mr. Rodriguez’s art again took me aback as I had forgotten had great it is. Though the issue is graphic on nearly every level – don’t worry, you aren’t going to see any nudity, but there is blood aplenty, I can’t help but continue to marvel at the detail contained in every page. Imagine if you will a man getting his brains blown out and the brain matter is flying toward the reader. Your eye is drawn to the muzzle flash, the bald headed thug, then to the detail of the 1930’s getaway car, and back further to the beach house, the beach, and the dozen or so people frolicking near the ocean. That is a lot of detail for a single panel, and Mr. Rodriguez does that on nearly every page of the book.


This was not a story I was expecting, but it was certainly the story I needed to learn more about the Locke family history, a few new keys, and a reminder that Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez tell some of the best stories I’ve ever read. From the opening page to the final clanging of the Keyhouse gates, this issue is a page turner. It’s graphic and unpleasant in places, but it is used to enhance the story, not simply to shock the reader. Locke & Key: Grindhouse is a must buy book for fans of the series, and earns 5 out of 5 Stars from me.

Rating: ★★★★★


About Author

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...

1 Comment

  1. Major Spoilers got me hooked on Locke & Key. After seeing Stephen’s reveiw of Clockworks, I picked up Vol 1 at the libray. Sence then I have bought every trade of this along with the oneshot. So glad this is out. I will be picking this up after work today. Life is good.

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