locke2What would you do if you possessed a magic key that granted you the ability to manipulate your mind? Bode Locke’s discovery of the mysterious Head Key becomes the focal point of the second volume of Locke & Key, Head Games. After searching all over Keyhouse, Bode discovers that the Head Key will literally pop open the user’s head, allowing others to peer in and see visual manifestations of that person’s thoughts and subconscious. Tyler and Kinsey are initially mortified, but curious about the possibilities surrounding the chance to pull out painful memories. Meanwhile, Lucas Carvaggio, known to Tyler and the Locke family as Zack Wells, hunts for the Keyhouse keys while eliminating those who recognize him for what he really is – a ghost.

Head Games is just as enthralling as the previous volume, but Hill ups the thrills by introducing the Head Key. The Key incapacitates the victim who are then are forced to watch as the offender literally digs through their head. While Bode, Tyler, and Kinsey opt into this, Zack Wells’ use of the Key on Duncan and Ellie is akin to rape as he forces himself into their minds in order to pull out their memory of his former self. The monologue Wells delivers while rummaging through Ellie’s head is somewhat unnerving. Duncan Locke gets more screen time in Head Games, but his story is a bit of a tragic one as the reader discovers his homosexual relationship has drawn the ire of locals who don’t take kindly to their choice of lifestyle. His story ends on a cliffhanger that will have you running to the comic shop for the next book.

Artist Gabriel Rodiguez shines in this volume as the large, two page panoramic shots depicting what lies deep in the minds of the major characters allows his creativity to flourish. Each character’s mind is a Wonderland of various fears, guilt and desires. The physical manifestations of Kinsey’s fears are both truly imaginative and frightening. The final pages of the book detailing Ellie’s memories and her connection to Zack Wells are incredibly beautiful, as Gabriel creates scenes using odd angles with beautiful contrasting colors. Head Games is considerably bloodier than the previous volume, as Wells’ campaign to eliminate those who know him usually end up being violent affairs. At the risk of repeating myself, Locke & Key is a comic that adults should make an effort to read through. It presents some cool ideas and that are backed up by wonderful illustrations. All in all, a delightful and exciting product.

Locke & Key, vol. 2: Head Games
by Joe Hill
Art by Gabriel Rodriguez
ISBN: 978160010761
IDW, 2010
Publisher Age Rating: 17

  • Allen

    | He/Him Past Reviewer

    Allen Kesinger is a Reference Librarian at the Newport Beach Public Library in California. He maintains the graphic novel collections at the library, having established an Adult collection to compliment the YA materials. When not reading graphic novels, he fills his time with other nerdy pursuits including video games, Legos and steampunk.

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