Review - Skeleton Key: One-Shot

A skeleton key has the power to (theoretically) open any door. What lies on the other side of that door is part of the adventure in having that sort of freedom. It's those adventures that Andi Watson chronicles as both writer and artist in the Skeleton Key: One Shot is published by Dark Horse Comics.

Kitsune and Tamsin are two kids trying to find their way home. Well, Kitsune is actually a fox spirit, but they're both children age. They have a skeleton key that literally opens any door. As long as they can find a lock, they can use the key and move to another world. Skeleton Key: One Shot takes the duo to three distinct worlds in three separate short stories.

In "Dead Can't Dance" they come across the New Necromantics, a "synth pop meets the dark arts" band trying to get zombies in line to dance for a video. They call upon the dark arts for better dancers of the undead, only the undead have motives other than pure dancing. The second story is called "Room Service" and is about a hotel guest who didn't quite complete their stay and remains behind as a ghost. Finally, "Lost Property" puts Kitsune and Tamsin in probably their most stressful situation, as the Museum of the Lost wishes to make them permanent exhibits.

There's really no overarching story tying the three short stories together other than the fact that each one represents a different world the duo stumbles upon. Kudos to Watson, as he's really done a great job infusing Skeleton Key with a vivid imagination. It's interesting that all three of his stories do focus on death, a somewhat heady subject for a work that seems to be intended for all ages.

That's not to say the one-shot is grim or anything. It's just that zombies, ghosts and a museum content with preserving people as exhibits is a little intense. The resourcefulness of the two travelers is on display and they manage to make the best of each situation, which is refreshing. Watson provides a positive and optimistic look on life via the imagination.

Watson's art has a Sunday comics feel to it. It works really well with the story and even seems to sport some anime influences with some of the panels involving Mr. Raccoon. There's a washed out tone that is prevalent throughout, and each page seems to progress by a color tone that changes. There's one really interesting page in "Dead Can't Dance" that's almost hard to look at. It's not bad, but definitely stands out. You'll know it when you see it.

Often our imagination takes us to places that are pretty crazy when you think about it. You can conceive this world where you're in charge and the hero, or where you're just a random object. Sometimes we're given the opportunity to traverse those worlds, whether it be through a vehicle or with an object. Watson has given readers an outlet for traveling to those worlds in the Skeleton Key.

Watson has managed to successully imbue Skeleton Key: One Shot with fantasy, humor and a sense of adventure. It's an all-ages comic that readers of all ages can really enjoy.

Skeleton Key: One-Shot is due in stores May 2.