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"Locke & Key: ...In Pale Battalions Go... #2" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by IDW Publishing


Written by Joe Hill
Illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez
Colored by Jay Fotos
Lettered by Shawn Lee
2020, 35 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on October 7th, 2020


With the world at war, young John Chamberlain is itching for combat. While he is too young to enlist, he does have some supernatural tools to help the war effort since he lives at Keyhouse. He takes a variety of keys over to Europe to fight off the Germans, but is he ready for the horrors he'll face over there?

Locke & Key: ...In Pale Battalions Go... #2 starts out with a completely different perspective. Writer Joe Hill focuses on some German soldiers as they investigate rumors about strange monsters attacking the troops. Hill frames this pair as good soldiers. They are disturbed by some of the atrocities have done in the war and want to fight with honor. A large chunk of the issue is dedicated to these folks, almost to the point where I was getting annoyed...then the rug is pulled out from under us.

Click images to enlarge

It's been a while since we've seen the real power of the keys unleashed in comics. This is a real sight. Artist Gabriel Rodriguez shows this off with an impressive double-page spread, presented without a single word. You can see the pure terror on the face of the German soldiers as they're obliterated by shadow monsters, all while a winged young man watches from a nearby tree with quiet determination.

Rodriguez's pencils are exquisite. Every image is filled with an impressive amount of detail, giving real definition to the setting and these characters. This works to highlight each emotion they're going through as well as the horror of war itself. As frightening as those shadow monsters are, they're nothing compared to the lengths the Germans are willing to go to win this fight.

One odd item in this issue comes from a shift in language partway through. We start out with the Germans speaking English, with a note pointing out that their words have been translated for us. This makes sense. The weird thing happens when we switch back, with the soldiers speaking in German and their words literally presented with subtitles. It's a strange move, however, letterer Shawn Lee gives this dialogue some weight. You understand the threat this army poses.

Click images to enlarge

Although some of the soldiers speak of honor, there is no glory in this war. Colorist Jay Fotos paints a dreary palette in Locke & Key: ...In Pale Battalions Go... #2. The pages are full of drab browns and greys, washing all life and hope away. It's interesting to see how slick the black shadow monsters look. They almost shine against this landscape.

Locke & Key: ...In Pale Battalions Go... amplifies the horrors of war through a supernatural lens. If the German army is willing to use poison gas in battle, imagine what they'd do if they got their hands on these keys. While that would have been an interesting enough premise, the story takes an even more frightening turn. I have no idea how this will be wrapped up in the next issue, but I cannot wait to find out.


Story: fivestars Cover
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Overall: 5 Star Rating

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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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