This book is the reason I read Heart-Shaped Box. I started reading this comic, which is written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodríguez, realized Joe Hill was Stephen King’s son, and was intrigued enough to read some of Hill’s prose.
This comic is so good!
It starts just after the brutal murder of Rendell Locke, a school counselor who is also a husband and father of three children. After his funeral, his widow and children move into the house in which Rendell grew up, which is all the way across the country in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. Rendell had told his wife that, if anything happened to him, they would be safe in that old house.
Turns out they are anything but safe there. Not only does Rendell’s killer manage to escape from prison and follow them to Lovecraft, but Rendell’s youngest child, Bode, manages to free an evil spirit who has been trapped in the well house since Rendell was in high school.
The spirit also happens to be the one behind Rendell’s murder, and although the human it convinced to kill Rendell is unable to finish the job in Lovecraft, the demon spirit takes human form and goes about trying to do what the human could not: killing the Locke children and opening the Black Door to let all his demon friends through into this realm.
Turns out the Black Door was discovered by some of the Lockes’s descendants who were living in the house during the Revolutionary War. When a spirit came through the door, it turned into a hunk of metal that could be forged into a magical key that could do just about anything its maker could dream up. But if someone gets too close to the door and looks into it when it’s open, they could be possessed by a demon that would then make them do all sorts of evil things … including killing all their friends and family.
Rendell’s kids don’t know any of this. They just know there are weird keys lying around the house that can help them do all sorts of cool things, including temporarily dying and flying around as a spirit, opening up their heads and taking out/inserting whatever they want (that volume was my personal favorite), changing their gender or race, and locking broken things in a cabinet that are magically whole again the next time the cabinet is opened.
Around the same time the Locke family moves to Lovecraft, a new kid named Luke shows up at the school and starts hanging out with them. Luke is possessed by the demon spirit that was previously trapped in the well house and he promptly sets out to get all the magical keys from the Locke house. He manages to befriend the Locke kids, who have no idea what he really is, which results in a lot of tension at a number of times when they come close to revealing something to him that they really shouldn’t.
Fortunately, the Locke kids are pretty smart. They’re careful to keep the keys hidden and to not tell anyone, including each other, where they are located.
This comic was sweet and funny and suspenseful and gruesome and the artwork was fantastic. I loved every frame.
What did you guys read this week? Any other comics by authors with famous relatives?