Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Locke & Key: And Other Things That Are Great

Do you like Horror? Do you like comics? (And if you’re on this blog then statistically speaking you do.) Are you reading Locke And Key? No?

What the fuck Is wrong with you?

Locke and Key is simply put one of the best comic books hitting the stands, second only in delivering the monthly goods to Brubaker’s Criminal. I’ve geeked out about Joe Hill before and I’ll do it again, because God damn it it is unfair for anyone to be this talented. Hill can write in any format, He can spit out great concept after concept (20th Century Ghosts), infused them with heart and depth (Heart Shaped Box) all the while being scary as hell. And he’ll write it in Swahili too. Why? Because he fucking can.

Hill is in the fabled “Eat your brains to gain your knowledge” spectrum of writers, chilling along side of the likes of Gaiman and Vaughn, as us mere mortals scratch in the dirt with sticks trying to form “words”. He’s just that good, and Locke and Key might be his greatest work.

Locke and Key tells the simple story of a family that suffers a tragedy and ends up moving to their family hate in Lovecraft (MWAHAHAA Maine). Starting off as a fairly pulpy Ghost story, Locke and Key has proven expert at redefining the terms of its story. Extending the scope with each arc with the grace of The Wire. I described it before as The Royal Tenenbaum's staring in The Haunting, by way of Lost, and that still seems right. Except its gotten even better.

Locke and Key does of course employ a few tropes that I am, to put it politely, a total sucker for. Few things will get me into a story quicker then the hint of a mult generational conflict, and the introduction of this element in The first issue of the second series might end up being my favorite issue of comics ever.

But its not the cool mythology, beautiful artwork, or truly scary moments that keep people coming back to Locke and Key and makes damn sure I’ll be there to pick up the book opening day. It’s this extraordinary family that Hill has at the center of his conflict.

Hill shares his father’s great gift of being able to firmly couch the supernatural in the mundane world of the every day. The problems of day to day living seem worse then the ssupernatural. After all what’s a monster living in the well, when you’re dealing with a loved one’s alcoholism, or a friend in the hospital, or are still reeling from a death in the family. Hill burrows right to center of his characters (sometimes extremely dark) hearts the stakes are so high not because of the cosmic nature of the horror but because of how much these characters stand to lose.

Locke and Key’s the best comic to deal with the supernatural since Sandman. Pick up an issue, give it a shot, just have some extra spending money handy because you’ll soon be compelled to pick up everything Hill has ever written. And you’ll be better for it.

Other Comic Notes:

Ultimate Spiderman #4: Despite the iffy art (great at times notso much at others) this series is still superlative. Part of its power comes from Bendis’s unparalleled long run. Bendis knows how to use the fact that we’re not just attached to the characters, but to his version of said characters, to his advantage. By this time we’ve grown attached to more or less everyone in Bendis’s cast. Conventional wisdom says that the essence of drama is conflict between the characters. Bendis seems to realize that writing Characters who aren’t utterly hateful to one another is also has its merits. It’s not Bendis’ large scale thinking that makes him one of the best in the business. It’s his humanism. And it’s never on display better then in his signature book.

Though I have to say the master plot is looking pretty good on this too. The issue ends on a cliffhanger that actually cliffhangs, and there’s a real feeling of momentum on this thing that’s intriguing. When Bendis can make the frigging Shroud Intriguing, you know he can pretty much do whatever the fuck he wants.

Meanwhile at the Distinguished Competitor Batman and Robin ends its second Issue with all the beloved Freak Flaggery that I’ve come to depend on. I wrote up the current arc in more depth last week. Suffice to say the finale didn’t disappoint.

Do you know what else is awesome? The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead is fucking awesome. I don’t think I’ve written about it at length, and a full on consideration should be coming soon.

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