Monday, 4 October 2010

Review - Locke & Key Vol.2: Head Games HC

Locke & Key is written by Joe ‘son of Stephen King’ Hill and drawn by Gabriel ‘son of Mr & Mrs Rodriguez’ Rodriguez. The concept behind Locke & Key is that there are various magical keys hidden around the Keyhouse – home to the Locke family – and these keys open doors ‘that transform all who dare to walk through them’ (I’m quoting the back cover of the first book here). In the last book, we encountered the ‘ghost key’, which opened a door that turned the user into a ghost, the ‘anywhere key’, which opened a door to anywhere the user wished to go, and the ‘gender key’, which opened a door that changed the user’s gender. That book ended with the Locke siblings – Tyler, Kinsey and Bode – still in a certain amount of danger from the thing that had escaped from the Keyhouse’s well, thanks to the ‘anywhere key’, and with the youngest Locke sibling, Bode, finding another key. That key, it turns out, is the ‘head key’, which does something rather odd (and rather amusing) to the user’s head – hence the title of this second volume.

‘Head Games’ is probably more fantasy than horror – the first volume contained several moments of brutal violence, while this volume contains very little violence – but it’s just as good as the previous volume, ‘Welcome to Lovecraft’, and really quite funny in places. To be honest, not a huge amount happens here – the book starts with the Locke kids unaware that they are in danger from someone or something they believe to be a friend and ends with the Locke kids still unaware that they are in danger – but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The focus here is on character development and fleshing out the mythology of the series. More questions are raised than answered, but that’s no bad thing and it ensured that I will move on to the third volume right away. Hill is proving himself to be a clever, funny comic book writer. I am really growing to like the character Bode, in particular, and am intrigued to know what happens with another young character, Rufus, in future volumes.

Once again, the art is great – neat but highly detailed – and I particularly like the way that Rodriguez draws the Keyhouse. In fact, I would really like to know if he uses some kind of design software or if he is just really bloody talented. He designs and draws the various keys well, too, so pure cartooning clearly isn’t his only strength.

I got the hardcover edition of this book on eBay, along with the hardcovers of Locke & Key volumes 1 and 3, for a price that worked out to £5.27 per book including postage. As these books have a recommended retail price of £18.99 ($24.99) each and this particular volume is currently priced at £16.14 on Amazon, I think that qualifies as a bargain – particularly as the first two volumes have turned out to be rather good.

Volume 3, here I come!

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