Sunday, 21 October 2012

Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows

What immediately leapt out at me when I first read the third volume of Locke & Key was Gabriel Rodriguez’s great work drawing shadows. A good comic book artist will give extra depth and life to their artwork with a clever use of shadowing. A better one will bring those shadows to life and give them a personality all their own.

That’s exactly what Rodriguez achieves in Crown of Shadows. The eponymous crown, when worn with the key inserted into it, allows the wearer to create and control shadows. The darkness is brought to life, fluid and bursting with character despite being stock foot soldiers for the sinister Dodge. It’s a wonderful idea executed perfectly by one of the greatest creative teams the industry has ever seen.

Elsewhere mopey, psychotic ghost Sam Lesser is revealed to still be hanging around Keyhouse after his demise in the closing pages of Welcome to Lovecraft. While he’s not exactly what you’d describe as balanced he has gained a bit of perspective since having his life ended and makes it clear his goal is to take the body of anybody foolish enough to use the ghost door.

As ever a great deal is packed into the six issues. Kinsey’s blossoming friendship with three of her peers at Lovecraft Academy lead to a tense stay underground and hints at a hidden past.  There’s a wonderfully large scale fight scene to enjoy in chapter five. Plus a mystery is introduced that casts a new light on Dodge’s motives and becomes a central part of the title’s mythology.

Joe Hill continues to prove himself as a first class writer, tackling pseudo-cool teens and drunken, depressed adults struggling with life with equal skill. The epilogue is a particular highlight for Hill’s wonderful characterisation. It’s a character piece centring on Nina Locke’s discovery of a lock and a small cabinet that fixes broken objects. It’s a well told tale that allows you to sympathise with each character in turn.

While the keys introduced aren’t as inventive as the Head Key seen in the previous volume the issues do a great job of adding layers of mystery to the overall plot arc. An excellent entry that asks more questions than it answers and ensures Locke & Key remains one of the most infectiously fun comics you’ll ever read.
Critical information:
Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
ISBN: 9781600109539

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