I still can’t figure out what rock I was living under when this series started coming out, but I’m glad I finally crawled out from under it and got with the times. I refuse to give too much away, but here are my overall impressions of the first four graphic novels written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez.
Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft – 4.5 Stars. This introduction to both characters and keys was equal parts enticing and addicting. I loved how predictable but not predictable everything was because the story here seems overly familiar on the surface and yet there’s a lot of originality involved. The flow of events was awesome too, and I loved learning a bit about the malevolent force lurking behind it all. Why oh why did I wait so long to read this series?
Volume 2: Head Games – 4 Stars. The keys get infinitely cooler and the backstory gets infinitely more complicated. What’s not to love? Plus getting to see Dodge in action was equal parts horrifying and fun as all get out. Bonus points for using obvious Foreigner lyrics. And even more bonus points for a very unstereotypical gay couple.
Volume 3: Crown of Shadows – 4 Stars. Probably my favorite. I’d say one of the creepiest keys gets introduced here but they’re all very, very creepy. While Dodge continues to be the best part of the series (after the keys), this is the book where I realized just how much I love Tyler Locke. Well, and Bode and Kinsey. But especially Tyler because he is the oldest and my favorite kind of fictional teenager – sweet, competent, overwhelmed, overprotective, and dealing with crazy issues 24-7.
Volume 4: Keys to the Kingdom – 3 Stars. This one was easily my least favorite. While I liked the humor of it, the artwork mimicking Calvin and Hobbes, and still cared about all the characters, I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer level of violence including so many birds dying that I still feel ill just thinking about it. And that’s saying something considering the other volumes and what they contain. Will I be back for more? You bet. And not just because of the epic cliffhanger.
In Conclusion: Fun horror premise + amazing artwork + awesome villain + tough as nails kids + creepy shiny keys that I want to collect = MORE PLEASE. Yes, it is is violent, ridiculous, and bloody, but it is also a fantastic trip that I for one would like to go on again and again. I wholeheartedly suggest this series for anyone looking for something to read as Halloween lurches towards us. Particularly those who enjoy a good action-packed, horrific mystery involving keys, a creepy house, and a fascinating bad guy that I wish I could say more about but it involves so many spoilers.