Locke & Key, Vol. 4: Keys to the Kingdom

Words: Joe Hill | Art: Gabriel Rodriguez

Review by Bernice Watson

The adventures of the Locke children continue in the fourth volume of the Eisner Award-wining series by writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez. Keys to the Kingdom sees Bode, Tyler and Kinsey further explore Keyhouse and its collection of magical keys while they wage an ongoing battle against the Dark Lady. As the children unravel their father’s involvement with Keyhouse and its secrets the Dark Lady becomes more determined to find the Omega Key.

This is such a fantastic series that it’s hard to write a review without just losing all objectivity completely and gushing praise all over the page. It’s not just me either, Locke & Key won the 2009 British Fantasy Award for Best Comic or Graphic Novel as well as the 2011 Eisner Award for Best Writer.

Amazingly Locke & Key isn’t a particularly complex story, there’s a bit of magic, a touch of mystery and some emotionally fragile young characters who are trying to figure it all out. But in its simplicity lies its brilliance. It’s just a damn good story that moves from one interesting scenario to the other. Each of the Locke children are struggling with their own demons in the wake of their father’s brutal murder but Locke & Key doesn’t have an axe to grind or an agenda to push, it just puts three-dimensional characters through their paces in a way that makes a fascinating read.

Gabriel Rodriguez really brings a vitality and uniqueness to the story with his gorgeous art. This volume includes a treat for Calvin & Hobbes fans in the form of an endearing homage to the classic comic strip in the first issue. The youngest of the Keye children, Bode, takes the place of Calvin as he has an adventure with the local birdlife. Bode has always exhibited certain Calvin-like qualities and this issue makes me wonder if the character was originally inspired by Calvin or if the similarities came about coincidentally. Either way it makes very enjoyable reading and Rodriguez does a wonderful job of referencing Bill Watterson’s distinctive style while retaining his own artistic flavour.

The end of Locke & Key: Keys to the Kingdom leaves the reader teetering on a cliffhanger and hungering for the next issue. As usual for the series the production is absolutely first class boasting a beautiful hardcover with spot lamination and gorgeous full glossy pages drenched in vibrant colour throughout. Definitely one for the coffee table when you’re done reading!


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