Thursday, 3 September 2015

Locke & Key, Volume 3: Crown of Shadows Review (Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez)


Three volumes in and Locke & Key’s story remains largely unchanged. The Locke kids – Tyler, Kinsey and Bode – continue to grieve over their murdered father, their mother’s still drinking heavily, and Zack Wells/Dodge/whatever its name is in this book, is doing more dastardly things. This time he’s looking for the black key… to do something, probably evil! Kinsey goes to a cave, following her dad’s footsteps as a teen, and more magic keys appear in the Lockes’ cartoonishly gothic mansion, Keyhouse! 

Despite stretching his near-static plot still further, Joe Hill’s script for Crown of Shadows makes this the best book in the series for me – though that’s not saying much as I didn’t like the first two very much at all! Kinsey and her friends’ excursion to the seaside cave was pretty good and filled with unpredictable menace and mystery (though the payoff is weak). 

And while Zack Wells’ attack on the kids in the third act was eye-rollingly incompetent, it was drawn really well by Gabriel Rodriguez, whose artwork I’m slowly warming to. I liked the way that fight section was divided into a panel per page, similar to the Superman/Doomsday fight in The Death of Superman. The epilogue was fun too, in a nod perhaps towards Hill’s dad’s novel Pet Sematary. 

There are still problems. The widow Locke’s alcoholism is getting very tiresome by this third book. She’s written as the stereotypical alcoholic and her clashes with Kinsey are melodramatic and corny. I want her to do something other than drink and cry over her dead husband – anything! And don’t tell me that that’s a realistic depiction of a drunk, I’m hardly looking for realism in a series where keys literally open up gaping holes in peoples’ heads and you can physically pluck out emotions! 

The way some keys work is again annoying. Tyler and Bode discover a new giant key that, yup, makes you giant – but how exactly does someone revert back from gigantism? Hill and Rodriguez conveniently ignore this issue. Again, I’m not looking for realism because oh ho ho it’s magic you know, I’d just like to feel that the creators have thought through what they’re doing beyond “wouldn’t it be cool if…”. Oh yeah and nobody spots the giants except for a single kid. Fuuuuck you, Joe Hill! 

Sam and Dodge’s spirit fight at the start was plain retarded. How do spirits bleed? What are they bleeding? It’s completely nonsensical. 

Generally though, Crown of Shadows isn’t bad. I’m still not seeing what the majority of readers love about Locke & Key but I’m slowly moving in that direction – assuming the series gets better. What does the Black Key open? For me, it’s Volume 4 – onwards!

Locke & Key, Volume 3: Crown of Shadows

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