There are comic books, and then there are comic books that change everything. I consider Locke & Key by IDW to be one of them. I jumped on late with this series and was looking for another title to try. I love Marvel, but decided I would like to see what else IDW had to offer. Kodiak was a thought, which was also written by Joe Hill, but I wanted something different. I was hell bound to get it and Robert Bloch delivered.
The last copy of That HellBound Train #1 was on the shelf next to number two. I bought both issues. The artwork of Dave Wachter with the familiar colors of Alfredo Rodriquez introduced me to the characters, Martin and The Conductor (this wasn’t Shining Time Station). Martin doesn’t seem like a bad person, just a person who has done questionable things to survive. The Conductor feels more malevolent then pure evil and reminds me of an angry dog at the end of a chain, and I am so looking forward to see him get free of his chain.
Martin doesn’t seem to be in any situation where a heinous deal of any sort would help him out or that it is even warranted. I question why this Conductor wants anything to do with him. Martin is not asking for fame or riches that go along with the cliché of asking the devil for anything. The comic does not make it clear that The Conductor is the devil; it is just a leap of faith as he states he has been “called other things.”
Martin is only asking for a moment to be relived, not fame or fortune. A pocket watch symbolizes the ability to rewind that moment and live it over, and when it happens, The Conductor can return to take his passenger onto the “Hell Bound” train. As the story unfolds Martin finds a good job, a better woman to marry (both on his own) and then falls from grace into an extramarital affair with something he didn’t see “fall off” the “HellBound Train”. The conductor had his hand in this. Why does he want Martin so bad? Issue #2 ends with Martin reaching for the watch as he lies next to the succubus, and then what comes next? I couldn’t tell you; I have to wait a month until the next issue comes out.
First and foremost, this comic book is priced and at $3.99 and I expected to be entertained. IDW is releasing a plethora of new stuff for an independent publisher. The story of That HellBound Train is a mix of panels and narration and only two issues in, the stage is set. Some of the scenes felt choppy, like the author was hoping the reader would take a leap of faith in the story. The art I felt, was solid with great inks, but I feel a few more panels would have helped to better convey the story. Still, I am okay with the end result. I look forward to the next issue and want to see if the creators can pull the story’s threads together, or just let them unravel.
If you feel after 24 issues that you can’t jump on the Locke & Key bandwagon (get the trades) then you have to make sure you jump onto the That HellBound Train now…. You might not want to get off.
Thanks for reading