Let's go with a couple of books full of giant, hideous monsters, to properly honor the holiday season. I have one other comic from last week besides these two. I'll do that Wednesday, hopefully along with some of the books from this week (there are supposed to being coming out I'm interested in).
Locke & Key: Small World, by Gabriel Rodriguez and Joe Hill (storytellers), Jay Fotos (colorist), Robbie Robbins (letterer) - Giant spiders menacing a quaint house? Feels like something out one of those '50s horror comics, or maybe Marvel's early '60s sci-fi.
This story is set in the early 20th Century, and revolves around a special dollhouse. You can use it to see where anyone is in the Locke house at any time, and if you tamper with things inside the dollhouse, it happens in the real house, done by a giant version of whatever you stuck in there. Like a hand, or a pencil. Or a spider that wanders in. And since the story is set a century before the events from the original series, given the Lockes tumultuous history, it's uncertain who might not survive.
It's a decent little done-in-one. I think you could follow what's going on without having read any of the earlier stories. It's just Hill and Rodriguez taking the opportunity to play in the sandbox they created some more. There's a lot of open ground unexplored, so here's one little thing that happened in the past. Inessential, but enjoyable.
Rodriguez is an excellent artist. The initial sequence establishes the rules of the dollhouse, the critical presences of both the family cat and the spider, and some of the personality traits of the family. The way Mary sees the dollhouse and is immediately planning mischief, while the younger sister Jean, is looking on with wonder and curiosity, but no real grasp of how it works. And their dad is there, prattling on about how it will allow the girls to understand their housecleaning duties in their, quote, 'natural empire'. Nice touch that when he's talking about that, Rodriguez draws him by himself in the panels, then switches to the two sisters talking between themselves about how they intend to use it. It sets the tone for the impending disaster. And in the panel when that disaster starts, Rodriguez gives Jean this great look. That look of excitement about something that has completely shoved everything else out of her mind. And Fotos uses the same red for the sunset in the background behind that he does for the spots on the spiders. And the way things are placed, Jean splits the red into two halves, like eyes. Nice touch all around.
Cave, Chloe, and Wild Dog tunnel into the earth to try and escape the strange monster pursuer. Then they're nearly eaten by giant worms. They escape that, and take some time to try and talk,as it turns out Chloe didn't know her mother was the princess of a subterranean empire. In the meantime, EBX has sent a mission to track them down, and the company's owner's father is up to something. Also, he may be made of goo.
I laughed at Chloe complaining to her father that Wild Dog nearly blew her up, only for Wild Dog to remember he hadn't finished blowing up her car yet and taking care of that. Just the way he can't pass up the chance to blow shit up. It's weird, but I think Wild Dog is more the everyman in this scenario than Chloe, who at least knows some stuff about the landscapes they're moving through. I'm curious if Way and Rivera will spend time fleshing out the team chasing our heroes, either to make us care about them (if there's a team-up down the line) or hate them. They're mostly cardboard puppets at this point, so we'll see.
I'm always a sucker for pages that are set-up largely without panels, just the characters moving across it to guide our eyes, and there's a couple of those here with the Mighty Mole tunneling through the earth. Those are nice. But I actually really like a pair of pages when they stop to catch their breath. Each has one panel at the top, establishing location and which characters are involved, then three panels across the middle, and one more at the bottom where the view pulls back and the conversation concludes. The first one is between Cave and Wild Dog, Cave explaining why Chloe might be angry about encountering giant worms, and in the three center panels, Wild Dog is progressively more in shadow as we move across. I'm not sure if it's so we focus on Cave, who is having to face past decisions that have led to current crises, or to emphasize Wild Dog being disappointed in Cave. They're at a distance in the panel at the bottom of the page, but it sure looks like Wild Dog turned away from him.
The next page, Cave tries to explain why Chloe wasn't told the truth about her mother. In this case, Chloe gradually turns towards Cave as the center panels progress, and rather than the eye remaining static, it moves in closer to focus on their expressions. It ends focused mostly on Chloe as she stalks away, leaving Cave sitting alone. It's interesting the first page is dominated by the reddish-pink colors and the panels are very rectangular. The second page, the reddish-pink is gradually overwhelmed by that green and black, and the panels are drawn more like entrances to caves, where the borders are formations reaching from the ceiling or floor.
So far Way, Rivera, Oeming, and Filardi continue to entertain and so I continue to stick with the book.