Current Reviews


Locke & Key: Head Games #1

Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2009
By: Matthew McLean

Joe Hill
Gabriel Rodriguez, Joy Fotos (c), Robbie Robbins (l)
IDW Publishing

Generally, funny books are getting more expensive of late. Like a good many people, this has caused me to cut out a growing number of titles from my pull list. It's not that I mind paying four bucks for a book, it's that just so few books are actually worth that price. However, Locke & Key (both Head Games and the preceding chapter, Welcome to Lovecraft) is a wonderful exception. It's the whole package--a gripping story with interesting characters, beautiful art and single issues that tie together, but more often than not can stand on their own.

The first issue of Head Games is a great example of this. Despite a chapter title that suggests that not much of anything will happen, it's quite the opposite. As a single issue, it's the story of Joe Ridgeway, a professor at the local school in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. Mr. Ridgeway's story is bookended by past events, and since he's been around for a very long time, he's the perfect messenger to give readers clues about the larger picture, how the generational story of the Locke family is tied to the malevolent spirit-form that was freed from the family estate at the end of Welcome to Lovecraft.

At the risk of spoiling a bit of the story, Mr. Ridgeway isn't destined to be around that long. However, that makes him the perfect example of why Locke & Key is worth reading. While he is a deliverer of plot points, and a small part of a larger story, he's never treated as such, never an empty suit or plot puppet, but a flushed out character that, even by the end of this short chapter, the readers will come to empathize with. The care taken in crafting even this transient character is clear and, if the hints dropped in this issue regarding the larger plot are any indication, it goes all the way up the story chain.

That eye for detail clearly extends to the art as Rodriguez and Fotos do a spectacular job. Whether it is the mundane scene of walking down the hallway of a school or the fantastic trip through one of Lovecraft's very special doors, both artists bring it to the page in such a way that it is beautiful to look at. The opening scene of a young Mr. Ridgeway diving into a river is as far as you need to go to see this--Rodriguez's drawing of the escalating emotions on his face is dead on, while Fotos' color work brings the outdoor scene vibrantly to life.

Since the story is told through the rather imperfect memory of an old man, there will be parts of this issue that bring up questions in the readers mind that don't, at first, seem to make sense. However, it all comes together in the end and makes Head Games a very promising new chapter to Locke & Key.

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