Locke & Key: The Golden Age
Joe Hill, writer; Gabriel Rodríguez, artist; Jay Fotos, colorist
IDW Publishing, 2022
The stories in this collection were developed over the course of a decade: the oldest story was written and drawn in 2011, while the most recent issue was published in late 2021. But they have one thing in common. Set in the early twentieth century, they are all prequels to the main series, which was set more or less in the modern day. In his introduction Hill says that one can read these stories without any experience with the main series. Perhaps the Sandman crossover will draw in some new readers.
"Open The Moon" is a single-issue story that demonstrates the use of the Moon Key, which opens the door to an afterlife inside the moon. It figures into the Sandman crossover, so it was also reprinted in the #0 prequel issue of the Hell & Gone miniseries. "...In Pale Battalions Go..." was originally published as a three-issue miniseries. It tells the story of young John Locke's determination to use the keys to aid the Allies in World War I. Things go well at first, but a desperate escape brings a German patrol back to the Keyhouse with him. It ends in tragedy, leaving John in Hell.
Which sets up the Sandman crossover Locke & Key/Sandman: Hell & Gone, which I have already discussed as part of the Sandman Universe (click on the above link to read it). It still amazes me that Neil Gaiman signed off on it so easily, but it was a great miniseries which caps off this collection beautifully.