Beautiful art, imaginative panel layouts, character driven writing and the potential to learn the secrets of the greatest alligator wrestlers of all times--what else could you ask for? Locke & Key: Head Games #4 has it all.
Joe Hill must love comic books because, given his professional track record, he could have easily turned Locke & Key into a prose book series. This love for the medium shows throughout the book and, lucky for readers, through IDW he has found a crew that loves the craft as much as he does. From the pencils, to the colors, right down to the lettering, no detail is below the notice of the team behind Locke & Key.
As far as the story goes, this issue opens with one of the Locke children, Tyler, doing something incredibly careless and stupid. However, the groundwork for the character has been laid down so thoroughly that rather than guffawing and saying, "that's stupid, no one would do that," the reader empathizes with the oldest Locke. Given the depth of his trauma and the resulting loneliness, his actions are understandable. Best of all, this has been built up without excessive melodrama. Even though much of Locke & Key is tragic and has a creeping horror to it, the dialogue often finds moments of humor that allow readers to bond with the characters beyond feeling sorry for them.
The following scene in which Tyler reveals a secret, to people he probably shouldn't be revealing it to, is pitch perfect execution of page layout. In a time when comics are frequently becoming just storyboards, seeing the medium's unique aspects used so effectively is refreshing as well as entertaining. Much the same can be said of Robbins' lettering work. And as for Rodriguez's art, it's simply beautiful and only made better by Fotos' distinct and meticulous colors.
The only possible downside to this issue is that the story is in no way self-contained and will be a bad place for any newcomer to the title to jump in. However, given the depth of the story and obvious hard work that's gone into it at each step of the way, I think I can let that slide.
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