Joe Hill - Locke and Key Vol 2: Head Games
I enjoyed the first graphic novel of Lock and Key so much I immediately ordered the second. Part of me was pleading not to fall into the trap of buying comics again – they are just so darn expensive. But I simply could not resist.
New York Times bestselling writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez, the creators behind the acclaimed Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft, return with the next chapter in the ongoing tale, Head Games. Following a shocking death that dredges up memories of their father's murder, Kinsey and Tyler Locke are thrown into choppy emotional waters, and turn to their new friend, Zack Wells, for support, little suspecting Zack's dark secret. Meanwhile, six-year-old Bode Locke tries to puzzle out the secret of the head key, and Uncle Duncan is jarred into the past by a disturbingly familiar face. Open your mind - the head games are just getting started!
This collection sees the pace of the story slow down. Characters are allowed space to develop and the strange events get weirder. Once again the story focuses on the children as they continue to unravel the mysteries of Lovecraft and the mysterious keys.
Bode discovers a new key that when inserted into the back of your neck opens up the top of your head and allows you to see everything that is going on there: all your memories, your fears and what makes you happy. It is a fascinating concept as presumably if you can see something unpleasant, then you can remove it. The question is, will it erase it forever and will it have any long term knock on effects? What about if you insert stuff into the head like a dictionary, will the recipient suddenly know every word?
Joe Hill explores these questions through the children, each reacting in their own way to the outlandish discovery. The comic would not work without solid characters, and it is the children’s reaction to events that make the story so good. Bode’s fearless innocence is tempered by his older brother’s need to protect his siblings. As such Hill does a good job at developing the children’s characters in the limited space he has.
The real winner in this collection is Zach Wells – the echo that escaped from the well in the first volume. Zach is delightfully Machiavellian as he inserts himself as a friend to the children’s inner circle. At the same time we get to witness how psychotic he is as he remorselessly murders anyone that threatens to expose him. The result is a slow, tense story as you are never sure how Zach is going to react at any given time.
There are some weaknesses. The Uncle Duncan story is intriguing as he recognises Zach but from many years earlier, the problem is he does not do too much about it until it is too late. Rather than garner tension it is a source of frustration.
All in all though, “Head Games” builds on a very good start to a comic book series. I am not sure where the story is going but I am in for the ride.
My rating: 7.9