Books of 2014, #10: Locke & Key, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

I suppose you could say that I’m cheating a little bit here, insofar as Locke & Key is a comic book. But at this point it’s finished—36 issues from beginning to end—and I read it through in its entirety.

I’m definitely going to recommend this book; I only picked up the first volume a few months ago, and I’ve been waiting for the conclusion to be collected ever since.

The story builds methodically from page one. In re-reading the earlier collections, I was impressed with how dense it actually is—in this era of decompressed storytelling, there is no filler here. I suspect that on future re-readings, I will continue to notice more subtle details from the beginning and middle that have ramifications for—or are referenced in—the end.

This is a book that is chock-full of character and story.

That said, I’m not yet certain that they stick the landing. Most of it flows with the sort of inevitability that a horror story needs to not feel gratuitous, but there’s one reveal that didn’t work for me on the first read. It may be that when I go through it again, it is set up better that I realize this first time through; I would certainly believe it, as even this second read-through has let me see many more subtleties than the first time.

Oh, and that’s all ignoring the absolutely brilliant art by Gabriel Rodriguez. It reminds me of a more traditionally cartoon-y relative of Marc Hempel’s art from Sandman’s The Kindly Ones. It has a clean line with lovely detail, and that’s even before he does his Bill Watterson tribute.


It had slipped my mind that last weekend while Anne was out of town, as part of my Festival of Dubious Movies, I also watched _Kick-Ass_.

In its comic-book form, this was the title that finally made me realize that I mostly don’t like Mark Millar’s writing. It’s not sarcasm-over-a-layer-of-caring like Warren Ellis (_Transmetropolitan_). It’s not dark and compelling like Frank Miller in his heyday (_Elektra: Assassin_, _The Dark Knight Returns_). It’s not dense like Alan Moore (_The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen_), or deep and beautiful like Neil Gaiman (_Sandman_). It’s not convoluted and mystical and self-referential like Grant Morrison (_The Invisibles_, _Doom Patrol_). It’s not clever (even if it never quite delivers) like Brian K. Vaughan (_Y: The Last Man_, _Ex Machina_). It’s really just middle-of-the-road superhero comic stuff–the sort of thing that Geoff Johns (_Green Lantern_) or Brian Bendis (_Avengers_) do, and do pretty well–but with a big old helping of *super-violence*.

Mark Millar is the comic book world’s answer to Alex from _A Clockwork Orange_. I don’t even bother to look at anything he does anymore.

Anyway, I did watch the movie, and actually kind of enjoyed it. Yes, it was absurdly violent, but some of the details they changed from the original gave it more humanity, more empathy, than the comic book ever displayed.

I wouldn’t want to spoil things for anyone, but the comic book chooses to make Big Daddy’s death a result of pointless bad choices on his part. At a certain age, I probably would have thought that much more impressive than I do now, but now it just seems cruel, and all it brings to the story is a sheen of nihilism that I find banal and unattractive.

Have I mentioned that I don’t find Mark Millar worth reading?

It’s still not a movie I would care to see again, or really recommend, but it’s not actively *bad*. And Nicholas Cage finally found the part he was born to play: a knock-off Adam West portraying a knock-off Batman. It’s at least as weird as his performance in _Vampire’s Kiss_.