My joy over the arrival of the latest issue of IDW Publishing’s Locke & Key had me giddy all weekend.  And the holiday activities only heightened my desire to crack the cover and take a peek at what lies within.  That’s quite an appropriate thought, as this issue featured a lot of cracked heads.

LockeKeyHEAD06cover.jpgIf readers ever wondered how Luke Caravaggio ended up controlling Ellie so easily for so long, the latest issue of Locke & Key: Head Games gives you that answer.  It involves using the Head Key to open Ellie’s head, and taking a peek into her memories.  There readers discover how she almost let Luke out of the Wellhouse early, but more importantly, why it took another year before he was able to get out in the Welcome to Lovecraft series.

The flashback lasts the entire issue, and it is an excellent look at Ellie’s backstory that covers everything from what happened to her marriage that left her a single mother to a child with special needs, her horrible childhood and adulthood spent being abused mentally and physically by her own mother, and how Luke leant a helping hand to kill off Ellie’s mom by making it look like an accident.

I’ve mentioned many a time how well Joe Hill crafts every issue, but this issue demonstrates that many of the key questions (no pun intended) readers have, are going to be addressed as the series goes on.  For those who desire to write Hollywood’s next big blockbuster hit, you need to pick up Syd Fields scriptwriting books.  One of the big things he points out in The Screenwriter’s Workbook is the need to understand and craft a believable backstory for your characters. This may involve writing up a detailed biography of their lives, and Fields even gives his readers a step by step Q&A  to get those questions answered.  While I can’t say Joe Hill has ever read these books, it’s clear to this reviewer that he has crafted a highly detailed history for each of the players in this drama.  It’s hard to tell at this point, but my guess is he may have crafted something so thorough, readers may still be reeling 30 issues from now over a bit of information that fits in naturally with the direction of the story.

That feeling is further pushed to the forefront thanks to Gabriel Rodriguez’s art.  While the dialogue exchange between Ellie and her mother really delivers a lot of backstory, Rodriguez forces readers to examine Ellie’s character in more depth in a beautiful, and yet horrifying, double page spread looking inside Ellie’s mind, which is chock full of memories.

The black and white color scheme of the bulk of the issue, plays well to convey the feeling of times past, and yet Rodriguez subtly sprinkles in color at just the right moments to make the panels and characters pop.  Whether it is a green dress, a bloodied head, or the hand of Caravaggio reaching into Ellie’s head to bridge the gap between yesterday and today, it works quite well.

The issue ends with a bit of a twist as Luke tries to use the mind key on Rufus to disrupt the child’s thoughts and memories, but can’t get the key to work. A tad more spooky is the implication that Rufus might have special powers of his own (again no pun intended).

I’d like to say I can’t wait until next month to find out what happens next, but IDW Publishing, Hill, and Rodriguez are taking a break, with plans to continue with the next major arc in the Fall of 2009.  Granted it’s only three months away, but it was a reveal that had my emotions swing completely the other way by issue’s end.  There are some plusses to this break; it will give the creators more time to work on the series and ensure timely delivery without any delays, it gives IDW Publishing a chance to publish these six issues in a trade to bring in more readers to the series, and whet the appetite of everyone who is already onboard this series and really desire more.

If you like your comic books filled with magic, murder, mystery and mayhem, then Locke & Key: Head Games is the series for you.  Obviously, you’ll need to read the first trade to understand what is going on, but it is well worth the effort.  Issue #6 is another winner, earning 5 out of 5 Stars.



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. Locke and Key is currently one of my favorite titles. I’ve tracked down all but the first issue of the first series. I’ve even hooked my best friend to it. Highly recommended to everyone.

  2. Excellent review Stephen! Your podcast covering the first trade hooked me and I am trying to get my mom to read it. This title is amazing! Thank you for covering it.

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