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Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows

Locke & Key, Vol. 3: Crown of Shadows (Locke & Key, #3)Locke & Key, Vol. 3: Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The story of the Locke family and their house of magic keys continues with Dodge is still after the Omega Key. He launches an assault on the house using deadly shadow creatures to find it, but the Locke kids prove more than a match for him, especially Ty, who really gets a chance to shine here. Meanwhile, Kinsey makes new (and better) friends and takes ever increasing risks now that she’s given up her fear, Bode finds a couple more keys, and their mother, still devastated by the loss of their father, retreats further into the bottle. The final panel of this volume is a stunner. I’m really enjoying this series.

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Locke & Key: Head Games

Locke and Key, Vol. 2: Head GamesLocke and Key, Vol. 2: Head Games by Joe Hill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Free from the constraints of having to set up the plot and characters, this second story arc in Joe Hill’s Locke & Key comics series moves the story along spectacularly. The Locke kids have figured out the existence of magic keys, though they’re still unaware of the danger in their midst. The backstory of this dangerous character is revealed a bit more this time around, though not entirely, just enough to keep you wondering and to hint at other foul deeds in the past. Hill introduces yet another magic key in these issues, one that does something that is both grotesque and kind of hilarious. Meanwhile, Kinsey Locke continues to be one of the most interesting and heartbreaking characters in comics today. Great stuff. On to volume 3!

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Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty

Gotham Central, Vol. 1: In the Line of DutyGotham Central, Vol. 1: In the Line of Duty by Ed Brubaker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fascinating take on the world of Batman, Brubaker and Rucka’s gritty police procedural takes you down to street level in Gotham City as the police try to juggle villains like Mr. Freeze and Two-Face with the more usual police fare of robberies, kidnappings, and murders. Two aspects of this ten-issue collection resonated with me the most. The first is that when a Batman story is taken down to street level, everything becomes much more brutal. It’s fantasy when Batman fights Mr. Freeze. It’s terrifying and tragic when cops try to and, more often than not, die horribly in the process. The human toll of Batman’s world has never been made clearer. The second aspect that really stood out for me is the psychology of the GCPD detectives themselves. They don’t like Batman because he pretty much solves all of Gotham’s major crimes before they can. They know they only have until sundown to catch the bad guys before Batman comes swinging in to take the collar from them. It drives them to work harder, but it also makes them angry and insecure. Alas, I’m not that big a fan of Michael Lark’s art here. It reminds me too much of the cramped artwork from newspaper comic strips, and I prefer clearer visuals. But that’s only a small caveat. I really like the idea behind this series: Batman stories without Batman (although he does make occasional cameos, and through the POV of the detectives he often comes off sounding like an asshole.) It’s got a lot of potential and a lot of promise. If the forthcoming Fox TV series GOTHAM is anything like this, I’ll be tuning in.

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Don’t forget, West Coasters, I’ll be signing books at Dark Delicacies on Saturday, January 25th, along with Christopher Golden, Jonathan Maberry, and Amber Benson! Please come and help make me feel as popular as they are!

Click here for all the details!

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