Locke & Key (vol 1-6): Welcome to Lovecraft, Head Games, Crown of Shadows, Keys to the Kingdom, Clockworks, & Alpha & Omega - Joe Hill

[I'm not sure why I didn't just label the title the entire series, because this is the complete 6 volumes that make up this great work. Note: I read these series twice so I've made some changes to my original thoughts and noted them in this review with "[ ]" ] Admittedly, I picked this up because the name Lovecraft was in the title. Despite the beautiful art of Gabriel Rodriguez [which is only a problem when characters are called "ugly" or considered plain when they are clearly beautiful] and lovely coloring job of glossy pages, I started out disappointed as it appeared there would be a good deal of gratuitous violence and perhaps sexual violence. I am so pleased to be absolutely wrong. The story is a fascinating tale of the Locke family, struck by horrific tragedy, who go to their ancestral home in Lovecraft, MA (ok, I know) in order to escape the past. There, the mother and kids (Bode, Kinsey, and Tyler) try to deal with the senseless violence done to them and slowly unlock the mysteries (and actual locks) of the family estate. In true Lovecraftian fashion, there is never any escape from the past. I'm eager to continue reading. 

With Head Games, I was less thrilled as I felt the magical keys that are, well, key to the series are getting a bit too much so that their outrageousness and/or silliness detracts for the horror story. Still,the excitement is more than enough to keep me hungry for more, although I felt Hill, via his characters, is being too harsh on the Locke matriarch in Crown of Shadows. [On second read I didn't have any problem with the magic but got that same feeling of harshness towards the father character as well.]

Keys to the Kingdom had an interesting formate, providing a montage for the passage of time, the discovery of new keys, and fighting off the constant dangers as an evil force continues to attempt to usurp specific keys for not fully understood reasons. It also spends a great deal of time focusing on the interpersonal relationships of the Locke family with those outside of it, to often creepy effect. Again, I feel the horror aspect of the story is downplayed for the action/adventure portions, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Hill does seem to abandon Mrs. Locke in this volume which I don't understand after she has been so important. [One complaint I have is that there are many, quite interesting, side characters introduced throughout this story, but Hill doesn't always give them the stage time they both need and deserve. There really should have been a vol. 3B that would have given more face time with some of the minor characters, many introduced in vol. 3, and fleshed out some of the stories presented in vol. 4. A win-win!]

Clockworks takes the story towards where I thought it should be moving, in that it becomes rather sinister again and deals mainly with historical accounts, allow the reader and characters to learn the past of so many mysteries. There are some problems with editing here in that one character states a person is going to school X and then that character states she is can't afford to go to school Y (which, by the way, is cheaper than X) and is going to Z. In another instance a character wonders why her name is printed next to another since she isn't dating that person, but none of the names are in that order so why would she bring up such a comment? I'd rather Hill slow down as I believe he has great deal of stories he could tell of multiple generations relating to his larger plot; however, the text claims that the story concludes in the next volume, which strikes me as both unfair and unfortunate. A minor criticism I had was the idea that someone can impersonate someone very close to you without attracting suspicion. I see this trope used a lot and I never buy it. Luckily, that had little to do with most of the events recounted here.

Alpha & Omega bring the series to a close. I won't go into any real detail here as not to spoil anything. I'll simply comment that am I glad the title has a complete storyline, and even more sad to see it go. I did have a couple of problems with the end, in that how something occurred in the final pages didn't make a whole lot of sense to me--hopefully I just missed something obvious. Did it end exactly the way I felt it should? No. Was it a great story that I would recommend to just about anyone? Yes! These are the types of stories that make the comic industry a place of magic. Don't stop!