In this sci-fi graphic novel, four robots banished for their crimes are given the worst punishment possible, the Kill Lock. This bit of programming links their systems so that if one of them dies, they all die. Linking four very different robots from very different walks of life is pretty much a death sentence. But, to make matters worse, one of the four criminals is just a child. This precipitates a search for an elusive cure, one that puts the four of them repeatedly in harm’s way. The Kill Lock is published by IDW Publishing and written by Livio Ramondelli, with art by Ramondelli and letters by Tom B. Long.
Right off the bat, it’s apparent that Ramondelli knows how to make a character. Readers are presented with a wide range of personalities, from an ex-soldier, a regretful addict, and a psychotic mastermind, to a child who has barely had a taste for life. It’s a hodgepodge of characters whose personalities constantly grate on each other. But it’s in these antagonistic moments where we get to the bones of these characters. Beyond just being a quirky bunch, they’re deep, complicated, and grow over the course of the book, especially with the sprinkling of flashbacks revealing the criminal acts that put them in this situation.
The plot of The Kill Lock starts relatively black and white. Of course, there’s the mystery of why a child would be sentenced to death, but the rest of the characters’ criminal past isn’t questionable. But as Ramondelli sprinkles flashbacks in here and there, our superficial view of these characters are questioned. Throughout this book, the reader’s interpretation of these characters will constantly change. This sprinkling of new information is masterfully done and will keep you on your toes; you’ll never know what will happen next.
Although most of the focus is on the characters themselves, there is still a significant amount of worldbuilding. From the arguably corrupt judicial system that sentenced our main characters to the Wraiths sent to decimate entire worlds for dabbling in immoralities, the world of The Kill Lock is an interesting one. Ramondelli also brushes on some interesting themes such as classism, corruption, and how people aren’t born bad.
The Kill Lock idea seems like a scathing punishment, but it may ultimately have an ulterior motive. Forcing four very different beings to work together and care about another being’s life could be a chance to learn. This duality is fascinating but isn’t isolated to this one theme. Instead, Ramondelli paints the world of The Kill Lock in shades of gray, and this is probably one of the biggest draws for this comic.
The artwork and coloring may require some getting used to, but between the robot characters and the harsh landscapes they encounter, Ramondelli’s unique style works well. The backgrounds are wonderful, from the harsh snowy landscapes to the grungy, bustling city. Although some of the highlights are a bit overwhelming, the detail and the coloring make for some visually stunning panels. Being robots, the characters aren’t drawn excessively emotive, but between the body language and the dialogue, this fact is easily overcome.
A variety of fonts are used for different characters, and different borders represent both monologues and communication over comms. The speech bubbles are easy to follow and never overshadow the characters. All in all, Long’s lettering is excellent and makes for an easy read.
Overall, The Kill Lock has some wonderful twists and turns and will keep you on your toes from start to finish. With a hodgepodge of characters that can’t help but get into trouble, The Kill Lock is a fun ride.
The Kill Lock TPB is available now wherever comics are sold.
The Kill Lock TPB
The Kill Lock has some wonderful twists and turns and will keep you on your toes from start to finish. With a hodgepodge of characters that can’t help but get into trouble, The Kill Lock is a fun ride.