Heroes & Villains: ‘Locke & Key/The Sandman Universe: Hell & Gone’, ‘Korgi: End Of Seasons’

This week is, hopefully, a much needed return to form for Heroes & Villains since I have TWO great books to write about. It’s a great thing since I don’t think anyone wants to read 800 words about how I changed my cat’s food this week and turned her into a diarrhea cannon. I’ll write about it if I have to but you’re all safe…for now.

Locke & Key/Sandman: Hell & Gone #1
Joe Hill (W)
Gabriel Rodriguez (A)
IDW Publishing

Longtime H&V readers will know that this column is no stranger to Joe Hill’s work and you all should check out the DC published line of Hill House horror comics (which I sincerely hope we’ll get more of). Hill and Rodriguez’s Locke & Key series caught my attention years ago and I recently revisited it in the wake of the Netflix adaptation and I’m pleased to say the run holds up wonderfully.

Since the show’s premiere there have been a few Locke & Key one-off books and the thing I found most striking about each of the titles was that none of them felt contrived. When L&K finished its original run it had a satisfying conclusion, there didn’t NEED to be any more to the story. At this stage of the game we’re all terribly familiar with the modern tradition of running popular franchises into the ground, but that only really occurs when the creators are out of ideas. Hell & Gone is proof positive that there are still great stories to tell in the Locke & Key universe.

I was intrigued when I read that this title was going to be crossing over with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Universe and I was curious to see how the two titles would mesh. Hell & Gone feels incredibly organic and also like something of a missing chapter for both titles nailing the tone of each series perfectly.

I’m excited to see where this book goes. Here’s the blurb:

If you think you can unlock the gates of Hell and just invite yourself in, you must be Dreaming!

The epic crossover between two of the most beloved fantasy universes in comics begins here. John “Jack” Locke is ten years dead, but that hasn’t stopped him from posting the occasional letter home… from Hell. Now, Mary Locke will do anything to save her brother’s soul. Her quest to rescue him from The Pit will require her to outsmart Roderick Burgess (the most evil man in England), puzzle her way through the House of Mystery, and risk the walking nightmare known as The Corinthian in a disintegrating Kingdom of Dreams!

Korgi: End of Seasons
Christian Slade (W/A)
Top Shelf Productions

In preparation for this section of the column, I binge read the entire Korgi series in one sitting last night. What I found was a fantasy series that was so unrelentingly adorable that I could not help but be completely hooked by it.

The fifth and final volume of Christian Slade’s cozy fantasy tale was recently released and I now have yet another comics series that I can’t wait to share with my niece. I’m an enthusiastic supporter of all ages books and the Korgi series definitely fits that bill.

Aside from a brief written prologue in each book, the story is told entirely though the artwork which is masterfully done by Christian Slade. It takes a LOT to effectively communicate a story visually and I never once felt lost or unsure of what was transpiring on each page.

The artwork is gorgeous and insanely intricate and it’s easy to see why the series has taken fourteen years in total to complete. The character and creature designs reminded me a lot of Brian Froud’s work in the best possible way so if you have a passing familiarity with Froud’s style from something like The Dark Crystal, Korgi may be of interest to you as well.

Here’s the blurb:

Winter has arrived in Korgi Hollow… and with it, the end of the Korgi story. As Ivy and her Korgi pup, Sprout, frolic in the frozen weather, an ancient power is stirring. At long last, saddle up for the conclusion of this “silent” epic fairytale told entirely through detailed pen-and-ink drawings. Fire and ice will collide in a timeless battle between good and evil. Will the residents of Korgi Hollow survive the harsh cold? One thing is for sure: nothing will ever be the same.

Korgi: End of Seasons is out now from Top Shelf Productions.

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