Locke & Key Keyhouse Compendium

Locke & Key Keyhouse Compendium
Locke & Key Compendium review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: IDW - 978-1-68405-776-4
  • Release date: 2021
  • UPC: 9781684057764
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Drama, Horror

Locke & Key is a series that began, if not unannounced, then certainly low key, and over the years its reputation has grown along that of its writer Joe Hill. The original serialised comics were first collected as six trade paperbacks, then as three hardcover Master Editions, at which point a TV show was created from it, running 28 episodes over three seasons. That was the occasion for releasing this Keyhouse Compedium collecting all six volumes of the original series.

Does your love of horror incorporate mystery and suspense along with an identifiable, sympathetic cast and strong drama accompanying the terror? In that case you shouldn’t really be without Locke & Key in some form. Whether it should be this volume is discussed further down the page.

There are roughly four years between each of the Locke children, with Tyler the oldest at eighteen. That’s him punching out a demon on the sample art. He, Kinsey and Bode have moved from California to their father’s ancestral home in Lovecraft, Massachusetts after his savage murder. Their mother is trying to keep things together, but failing. Hill spends time to ensure we come to know the main cast early, aware familiarity breeds sympathy and suspense, and the longer the story continues the greater the realisation that there’s little shown that’s throwaway. Bode is at first the most curious when it comes to finding keys in the spooky old house, and searching out what they might open, which isn’t always pleasant, but he’s not a kid to be dissuaded by a strange experience.

It takes a while for the revelations to come tumbling out, but there’s a reason for the succession of creatively strange experiences starting with a key, and it endangers far more than just the Locke household.

While the creative inspiration initiates with Hill, it’s visualised by Gabriel Rodriguez who’s equal to whatever strangeness Hill throws his way. At first the halfway stage between realism and cartooning seems an awkward compromise, but once Rodriguez settles into the style it proves entirely appropriate. His speciality is detail, whether that’s the rooms of a cluttered old house, or the individual peculiarities of what a demon looks like. It’s a stunning performance all the way through.

For all the quality within, the Compendium is an unwieldy beast. It’s oversized, and clocking in at over a thousand pages, so one hell of a weight. The pages weren’t designed to be bound into such a massive book, so they suffer from art and dialogue disappearing into the binding, and getting to them is likely to mean cracking the binding, which is unsatisfactory. An alternative worth considering is the 2104 Slipcase Set, collecting all six original volumes in a box.

This is an amazing story with great art, but perhaps better appreciated in smaller sized editions. The hardcover Master Editions are the first option if you have the money, but used copies of the original paperbacks can be had at bargain prices. Welcome to Lovecraft begins the series, and is followed by Head Games, Crown of Shadows, Keys to the Kingdom, Clockworks and Alpha & Omega. Click on the links for greater detail about the twists and turns.