Thursday, February 18, 2010

Locke and Key: Issue 3 Review

Comparing "Locke and Key" to the TV show "Lost" is a big time mistake, but I've done so in the past. What I really meant to say, most likely - hindsight - was that "Locke and Key" is a well-written, well-drawn, just all around well-freaking-created mystery.

What's actually comparable between "Lost" and "Locke and Key" is how I interact with their stories; I've seen episodes of "Lost" at least three or four times, and I've read issues of "Locke and Key" just as many.

Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez are putting together a story filled with mystery, questions that may or may not get answered, and something that ties all of it together nicely, a prerequisite for any good mystery, at least one that succeeds on more than one level: character.

Good mysteries are certainly capable of existing without strong characterization, but if this happens then most likely they are intriguing because the reader/viewer/interested party is surprised by something; a twist they didn't see coming, for example. Having a twist/surprise is entertaining, but taken alone they are stunted enjoyments, like riding a roller coaster without throwing your arms up.

Not all roller coasters are suitable to throw your arms up, however, and this is just as easily a metaphor for all stories not having both mystery and characterization. "Locke and Key" is not one of those books.

Issue 3 of "Locke and Key: Crown of Shadows" was released on Wednesday, February 17, and along with furthering the mystery, adding more questions, more "What Ifs" to the already towering pile of them, it is loaded with characterization, foreshadowing (ehhh, puns), and humor. While all of these aren't necessary for the creation of a good mystery, they can occasionally be added to create a streamlined-machine-of-a-mystery that is bigger, stronger, and faster than normal mysteries.

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There are quite a few things I like about "Locke and Key," but one of the most desirable aspects of the book is its unpredictability. The first time the reader was given a glimpse of the anthropomorphic shadows that are referenced in title of this third "Locke and Key" storyline was during the second storyline, "Head Games."

Locke and Key: Head Games issue 1

It was a gorgeous two-page spread of the high school production of Shakespeare's "The Tempest," as performed by Rendell Locke and Lucas "Dodge" Caravaggio. The shadows have an ominous presence in the picture, and seem to be coming to life. We see beasts, warriors, and demons all lurking behind the foreground, and the reader has no idea what is going on, other than teacher Joe Ridgeway's description: "...magic."

Before the titled of the third storyline was released these shadows didn't mean much to me, at least not in a direct way. I was sure they had something to do with a key, just not which one or why. After it was revealed the third storyline would be entitled "Crown of Shadows," I started forming theories about what these shadows may be, particularly when the variant covers for the issues of "Crown of Shadows" were shown. Here is the cover to issue three, along with its variant.

Locke and Key: Crown of Shadows

I had a theory that each person's shadow was defined by their inner workings, by who exactly they are. By utilizing the Shadow Key someone could activate their shadow, and thus do...something with it. This definitely wasn't my only theory regarding the story, but it was the first one to be shown as completely wrong.

Now I can go on reading "Locke and Key," forming theories, testing them, and smiling when Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez send one flying by me, like they did here.

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