Comic Review: Locke & Key: …In Pale Battalions Go… #1 (IDW Publishing)

The Locke and Key series resumes with IDW’s In Pale Battalions Go… “One of the Locke boys is desperate to join the war effort in Europe and turn the tide […]

The Locke and Key series resumes with IDW’s In Pale Battalions Go…

“One of the Locke boys is desperate to join the war effort in Europe and turn the tide of the battle with the power of the keys.”

So goes the intro on the back cover, covering the concept’s central thrust. And how does that go? Well, it’s a mixed bag, to be honest.
The front cover by Gabriel Rodriguez is striking enough, its mask-wearing German soldier running toward us, bayonet forward. The young girl in the doorway, holding a teddy bear is shocked, and so is her cat! Meowww!!

Anyway, it’s all about locks and keys, and doorways of travel for those who hold certain keys. And the keys have always been weapons of war. And so goes it, with young John visiting a war recruitment office in Toronto, Canada, trying to enlist. (Canada entered WWII in 1939, two years before the US) It’s only when John seems a little young and doesn’t have his Toronto city geography figured out, that: jeepers, he beats it back to home in the US.

Joe Hill writes, Gabriel Rogriguez illustrates, and Jay Fotos colours this first issue of the new story arc. The art is splendid, detailed in just the right way: atmospheric, period-appropriate (1930’s), with each panel, carefully composed. There is strong preference for figures to be positioned at the middle of the panel, for the focal point to be a medium shot. It’s thoughtful, tasteful, and storybook. The colouring is impeccable. Moodly, careful, and always in service of comprehending the visuals.

The story is a bit slow, even taking into consideration the time period. Yes, in the 1930s, perhaps people spoke more slowly and didn’t multitask on TikTok and Snapchat while walking. However, the pace of this issue is a bit ahead of glacial, a bit behind the pony express. It’s weighty, evenly paced and progressing, slowly but inevitably toward… war. John is a young man with the ‘right’ keys but perhaps not the patience to learn lessons only once!

IDW, Locke and Key, In Pale Battalions #1, $3.99 for 23 pages of story content. “Mature”

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!