Saturday, September 10, 2011

Locke& Key 4: Keys to the Kingdom Review

Locke & Key 4: Kings to the Kingdom  
Author/Artist: Joe Hill/Gabriel Rodriguez
Publisher: IDW Publishing
American release date: July 19, 2011
Format/Genre/ Length: Graphic Novel/Fantasy/160 pages
Publisher/Industry Age Rating: Not rated/contains mature themes & graphic violence
Overall Personal Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Similar authors to check out: HP Lovecraft, Stephen King, Harlan Ellison titles

Kinsey is trying to get Tyler to share his burden with her, but is it her that wants to know the whereabouts of the omega key, or is it Zack? When Tyler accidentally learns of Zack’s boyfriend status with his sister, things get ugly, and poor Bode is left bemoaning the problem with teenagers.                             


Bode finds a new key, and this one transforms him into a bird! Not surprisingly, Zack’s animal form is a wolf. When the wolf and his dog friends confront Tyler and Kinsey in the woods, will Bode and his bird friends be able to stave off their destruction?

While taking a walk, Tyler and Kinsey and their respective significant others run into an older black lady who is being pushed about in a wheelchair. She spies the teens and, mistaking Tyler for his father Rendell, tries to cry out a warning. “White!” she cries. The young people assume it’s because of their race. How mistaken they are.

Kinsey learns the woman’s name and she recognizes it from when she was inside the cave, searching for her father’s name on the wall. She wants to talk to her more. Trouble is Erin Voss is a resident of the McClellan Psychiatric Hospital. Kinsey’s determined to get in there, so she brainstorms with her two buddies, Scot and Jamal,  and one of them has an idea. Meanwhile, Zack, in his guise as the Dark Lady, sees another way to get in, by appealing to the baser instincts of one of the lower level employees of the hospital. When Kinsey runs her plan by Bode, he ups it to something that is actually more viable, using another key, and in the process they learn how making themselves appear to be black has rendered them invisible to a lot of people. All Kinsey needs to do is to get to the old lady, and use the head key to learn what she knows. The question is who will get to her first?

As Kinsey and Zack become closer, she wants to do something to seal that closeness—she wants to open up their heads, take one of her happiest thoughts and give it to him, and then do the same with him. When he unequivocally refuses, she breaks up with him. Afterwards, she reveals the secret of the head key to Scot and Jamal. Tyler is horrified to learn what she’s done, not to mention that Bode is being rather loose with key secrets too. Tyler’s love life goes up in flames when he catches Jordan with someone else. It seems that everyone is at loggerheads now.

While spending time with the Lockes, the coach’s son Rufus sees and speaks with the spirit of Sam Lesser, who communicates with him in the military jargon that the young boy understands. Sam warns Rufus of the danger to the Lockes, and to his mother, and gives it a name—Zack. Rufus is not willing to kill the enemy, but Sam has another plan.

Uncle Duncan’s lover Brian has come out of his coma at last, and the two women responsible are behind bars, claiming that there was someone else involved, a young man with a lip ring. Tyler becomes suspicious, thinking that the description they’ve given is too much like a certain someone. When he and Kinsey and Bode go to watch Zack’s fencing championship match at the school, he uses Bode as an excuse to leave early, and on the way home return Rufus’ broken action figure. What he really wants is a chance to question the coach, snoop in Zack’s room, and hopefully get some answers.

All Hell is about to break loose and all bets are off…


The first chapter of this fourth volume of Locke & Key is an homage to Bill Watterson, drawn in the style of Calvin & Hobbes. It utilizes the characters in an unusual way.  I enjoyed this brief change of pace. It was something rather unique, and interesting to read.

As for the rest of the book, it’s like watching a train wreck, one you can see coming but are incapable of doing anything about. When yelling a warning doesn’t do a bit of good—what will be will be. Que sera sera. In this ultimate battle between good and evil, it’s not a foregone conclusion that good will overcome bad. Zack is one slick number and he has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. Yes there are a lot of allies to be called upon, but numbers alone won’t do it.

This volume of Locke & Key is excellent. It will draw you in, as you rapidly turn the pages to learn what comes next. Hopes are raised—and dashed. The story progresses admirably as we get closer and closer to the whole truth of the matter, and the meaning of the keys. I suspect that the one that Zack wants the most holds that answer. I can’t wait for the next volume, Clockworks.

All I can say is talent certainly runs in that family, and Joe Hill got it in spades from his parents—Stephen and Tabitha King. This is one of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read, and Gabriel Rodriguez’s artwork is amazing. Not to be missed.

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