Locke and Key: Head Games #1


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Locke and Key: Head Games #1


  • Words: Joe Hill
  • Art: Gabriel Rodriguez
  • Inks: Gabriel Rodriguez
  • Colors: Jay Fotos
  • Story Title: Intermission
  • Publisher: IDW Publishing
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Jan 14, 2009

There is someone at Lovecraft Academy who recognizes Zack Wells as someone else… and maybe as something else also.

There are reasons Joe Hill’s first Locke and Key miniseries was a success and he keeps proving those reasons in this first issue of a new mini-series. With a focus on characters, humanity, tragedy, loss, love, fear, light and darkness he touches readers’ emotions and draws them deep into the story before they know it.

Joseph Ridgeway is the oldest teacher at Lovecraft Academy. Having lost his beloved wife, the director of admissions for the school, some years ago, he continues to drift on teaching more out of habit than a sense of purpose. Ridgeway wakes up, however, when he sees the new student in the halls – Zack Wells is a familiar face… a very familiar face but one that is several decades out of date. Joseph Ridgeway may be old but he’s not senile yet…. Although he may wish he was when Zack Wells figures out what he knows.

This is where Joe Hill’s writing truly shines. Readers meet Ridgeway on the first page and within moments he is as familiar to us as our friends, neighbors, or even our own teachers past and present. More than that, he is so thoroughly human. He carries around pain but he has not allowed that pain to dull his senses or his mind. He is inquisitive and philosophical and it is his age and wisdom that allows him to accept what seems to be an impossibility. He also is well aware that his acceptance of this could cause trouble but in his own gentle nature he has no idea of what kind of trouble. This is contrasted sharply with the arrogance of "Zack Wells". As giving and caring as Ridgeway is, Zack is casually cruel – using and verbally abusing those he can and plotting to always get what he wants. Zack does not care about pain and he does not care about any living being… unless they stand in his way. Hill’s words, his dialogue, his descriptions all build into this. Every word in this comic goes toward refining the characters or the scenes to the point where, as in all good fiction, the reader completely disappears into the world the author has created.

In this world creation Hill has perhaps the best collaborator possible – artist Gabriel Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s style – with its heavy inks – serves to delineate the characters as much as the dialogue. He creates interesting and yet at the same time everyday faces. These are people you could really expect to see on the streets and their expressions tell their stories of struggle and happiness and even darkness. Rodriguez also spends as much time on his backgrounds as he does on his faces and what results is something amazing. Incredibly detailed panels that have been carefully framed, perspectives carefully forced to give the illusion of true depth and even textures.

Locke and Key: Head Games lives up to its title – it gets inside your head and makes a place for itself in your imagination… a dark, creepy, and yet oddly touching place. Writer Joe Hill has certainly crafted a siren song of a story. It calls you into the water and you wade out until you suddenly realize the bottom is no longer under your feet. Go ahead and sink beneath the surface because when you close the cover and finally come up for air you’ll find you can’t wait to do it again.

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