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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Locke and Key:Welcome to Lovecraft. Joe Hill (Writer), Gabriel Rodriguez (Art), Jay Fotos (Colours), Robbie Robbins (Letters). IDW Publishing (2008)

A superbly creepy and unsettling horror comic, low on gore and rippling with tension. After the murder of their father, the three Locke children, Tyler, Kinsey and Bode as well as their mother Nina move to the town of Lovecraft to stay with their uncle and Nina's brother -in-law at the Key house. Bode finds an odd key and a door that has a extraordinary power, he also finds someone trapped in a well in the well house. While Tyler, Kinsey and Nina all slowly find ways to come to terms with the violence they endured, Bode is slowly drawn into a savage plot. The story coils steadily tighter and tighter and the conclusion is chilling and ominous.
The most striking aspect to this story is the complete lack of hurry, the reader is increasingly aware that terrible events will unfold, there is no rush to the action. The story splits the narrative and coils back on itself before reaching the bleak climax. The cast are given the chance to breathe, develop and change and just as they are seeming to emerge from the shadows of the past they are plunged into horror once again. The real trouble is not happening in the foreground of their lives however, it is taking place at the margins with the most unreliable possible witness. The structure of the story is remarkable piece of craft, it reveals the presence of an extraordinary malevolence, threatening everyone and visible to none.
The disciplined and slightly cartoony art expresses all the varying moods of the story with force and clarity. The cast are given a great vitality and motion, they never seem to be completely still, they are so busy with memories and mental strategies that they are always doing something. The cast are moved with care through their attempts to recover themselves, the critical moments for each are superbly caught.
The colours are done with such skill that they nearly vanish below the perception of the reader, they are just so subtly tuned into the nuance and atmosphere of the story that they virtually absorbed by it. The lettering is unobtrusively expressive, it is a pleasure to read.
While the story closes with an obvious intention to continue, the story is satisfyingly complete in itself. This is confident comic, using the possibilities of the medium in clever, thoughtful ways to draw the reader into chilling, unyielding grasp. Brilliant and haunting.

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