Comic Review: Locke & Key: Grindhouse by Gabriel Rodríguez & Joe Hill

From IDW comics, Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodríguez, Jay Fotos, Robbie Robins, and Chris Ryall


In Locke & Key’s first one-shot, Guide to the Known Keys, the reader was treated to a sweet story; a father trying to do everything for his son, cutting out the horrors of the house and focusing on the horrors of natural mortality. There have always been natural horrors in this world, such as disease, and in this fantastical world, sometimes we need reminders. Joe Hill’s greatest attribute, in terms of horror, is that he brings heart to it. Something that really shouldn’t work, and he makes it look like natural progression. Follow that up with the brilliant art work of Gabriel Rodríguez, a man who knows Keyhouse better than Joe Hill himself, and you have the best team in comics.

On their second go round of one-shots, Grindhouse is a depression-era tale of a bank robbery that goes right, but ends up going so wrong in the end. The story opens with a bank heist that see’s three Canadian robbers making off with a lot of cash and a body count. Next stop: Keyhouse. The panel of them driving up to the house, as it hangs ominously in the background, is a bittersweet moment as its taken in. The nice thing about this series is you know what they’re in for, but you don’t know how creative it will be.

As it turns out, one of the guys – Phillipe Dassin – used to trim the hedges; he and his partners need a place to hide out, as they wait for a boat to meet them. Dassin is the brains, Michael is the muscle, and Dassin’s brother, the perverted, eccentric killer. The trip to Keyhouse is expected to last a few hours, but perhaps they’ll stay forever.

The current Locke family certainly comes off as not helpless, but certainly innocent. They entertain these men for a while, but eventually it all leads to their downfall, one does make it out alive, but he, or should I say she is changed forever. The reader also gets their first view of the “bitey” key in action, and it does not disappoint.

The first one-shot’s focus was on the keys of the house, and now, with Grindhouse, the focus has shifted to the architecture. At the end of the issue, Rodríguez’s great love of this structure is displayed through a series of blueprints and a list of rooms in the house. An afterword from Joe Hill provides insight that Gabe knows this house better than he does, and he’s always willing to ignore him to prove it. The reader may take for granted how consistent this house is, and Locke & Key: Grindhouse is a tribute to Gabriel Rodríguez’s consistency and love of Keyhouse and more so the entire property itself. It’s his love for this house that we love this house. A very fine house? Fuck that! Best. House. Ever.

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