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"Locke & Key / Sandman: Hell & Gone #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by IDW Publishing / DC Comics

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Written by Joe Hill
Illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez
Colored by Jay Fotos
Lettered by Shawn Lee
2021, 38 Pages, $6.99
Comic released on April 14th, 2021

Review:

On their own, Locke & Key and Sandman are two incredible comic series exploring horror, fantasy, and drama with new and fascinating ideas. Together, in a special crossover, they can be so much more. Locke & Key / Sandman: Hell & Gone weaves the two worlds together in a way that makes complete sense and tells a powerful story.

The crossover picks up shortly after the recent Locke & Key mini-series, ...In Pale Battalions Go... and at the beginning of Sandman. Writer Joe Hill blends these two timelines as Mary Locke searches for ways to save her brother's soul, leading her to the most evil man in England, who has a mysterious pale figure imprisoned in his basement.

The timing of this is perfect, as there are years during the early days of Sandman where Dream was kept captive and the world still turned, albeit with a different kind of slumber. It's an area rife with possibilities that plays with the Sandman mythos without disturbing anything that came before or after. What was going on with Dream's signature mask and other items while he as captured? And what of the House of Mystery, Cain, Abel, and the others from his land? This is the kind of stuff Hill explores and it's absolutely brilliant.

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Tying it back to Mary and the Locke family is a great touch, as there's a personal connection here. Her brother, Jack, has been dead for a decade, but Mary, her father, and siblings are still haunted by not only his loss, but where his soul has ended up. Artist Gabriel Rodriguez depicts this is a horrifying scene showing Jack's decaying corpse trying to claw its way out of the well. The details are so very disturbing and instantly convey the stakes at play.

Rodriguez's character work is top notch. You get a sense of each personality based on how the characters look and act. For example, Mary is cool and confident, yet there's a hint of sadness lurking just beneath the surface. Contrast that with Roderick Burgess, the aforementioned evil man, who is slick and conniving. You can tell you can't trust him from the moment you see him.

That sadness comes through when Mary gets a face-to-face with Dream. Letterer Shawn Lee packs so much emotion into these panels as Mary just lets everything out. It comes spilling from her mouth as she releases all this pent up anguish at the last hope she had of saving her brother.

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I love how Dream's look is completely different than the rest of the comic. He's a member of The Endless after all, so he's not the same as us mere mortals. He has more of a painted look as compared to the standard pencils and inks used for everything else. Colorist Jay Fotos does a brilliant job here and throughout the entire issue.

Locke & Key / Sandman: Hell & Gone meets and exceeds its lofty expectations. Considering how great these two series are separately, it's saying something to have such a great opener to their epic crossover. The worlds are fully integrated by the end of this first chapter and I am so excited to see what kinds of terrors await in the rest of the story.

Grades:

Story: fivestars Cover
Buy from Amazon US.
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Buy from Amazon UK.
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Art: fivestars
Overall: 5 Star Rating

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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