Review – The Sandman Universe/Locke and Key: Hell and Gone #2 – Enter the Underworld

Comic Books DC This Week
The Sandman Universe/Locke and Key: Hell and Gone
#2 variant cover, via DC Comics.

The Sandman Universe/Locke and Key: Hell and Gone #2 – Joe Hill, Writer; Gabriel Rodriguez, Artist; Jay Fotos, Colorist

Ray – 9/10

Ray: One of the most unusual crossovers to ever come out of DC, this fusion of IDW’s most iconic creator-owned property and DC’s legendary Vertigo flagship saw the first issue published by IDW and the second by DC. This one definitely feels more like a DC/Vertigo title—while the first issue just used the Sandman world like an accent to Mary Locke’s journey, this one is firmly grounded in it. Mary has lost one brother to illness, another to tragedy, and is about to lose her aged father to grief. Desperate to save her family, she makes a perilous journey into the Dreaming and beyond—starting with a showdown with the Corinthian, who has impersonated Lucien. The iconic Sandman villain is suitably grotesque and horrific.

He’s not the only thing that is, and that’s this crossover’s only weak point. Once the Corinthian is banished, Mary turns her focus to entering Hell with a key, which requires a guide—in the form of a pre-rhyming Etrigan. It’s surprising to see a traditional DC character playing a role here, but he fits the purposes. What doesn’t quite fit is the portrayal of Lucifer, here played far more as a traditional villain. Between his fire-and-brimstone bellowing, his vows of revenge, his traditionally devilish appearance, and his grotesque collection of henchmen, he seems more like a stock devil character. It doesn’t help that his Hell is portrayed as a never-ending torture chamber that he takes great pride in. A far cry from the charming devil of the Carey run and TV show.

But while the hell segments, and the following battle, don’t work quite as well as I’d hoped, everything surrounding it does. From the moment Mary Locke encounters her wayward brother, the last act of this drama is brilliant. It’s the biggest testament to Locke and Key’s brilliance that the book can cover a ton of supernatural action and horror and still be so firmly grounded in the often heartbreaking stories of those holding the keys. The final scene brings in a character that I think many fans were hoping to see in any Sandman crossover, and this brilliantly brings to a close all the subplots began in the devastating “In Pale Battalions Go” miniseries. Hill and Rodriguez remain one of the best creative teams in comics.

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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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