By Michael Bramley
Novelist Joe Hill’s comics debut, Locke and Key, is the very best Vertigo book of the last ten years, and it’s not even published by Vertigo. Nope, this is an IDW title that reads more like a Vertigo comic from the nostalgic days of Swamp Thing, Sandman, or Preacher.
That’s not to say that it’s dated at all. Oh no – more like its a return to glory for mature comics. I can’t remember the last time I picked up a series aimed at adults and found myself as invested in the characters and their dark and twisted tale as I am with this book.
Much like his father (Stephen King), Joe Hill often starts with a goofy concept and then masterfully twists it into something you’re forced to take seriously. In this instance the story is about a house filled with magic keys, which, if turned in the appropriate locks, can transport or transform the user. This reminds me of a set of short picture books I read as a child… same concept really; the kids would open doors with magic keys and go places, or turn into things and that’s good, solid wish fulfillment for kids. What Joe Hill manages to do is take that childish concept and make it horrific. He fills this world with realistic characters you quickly learn to love and then introduces very real threats that cause you to fear for those character’s lives.
IDW started releasing the trade paperbacks last year, I highly recommend picking up the first book volume, Welcome to Lovecraft, now!