The Unexpected DC Crossover That Joe Hill Says Influenced Locke & Key/Sandman Universe: Hell and Gone

Today sees the release of one of the most surprising and ambitious comic book crossovers in recent memory, as Lock and Key crosses over into the Sandman Universe titles at DC. The story, which centers on Mary Locke, posits that the Key to Hell, as seen in Sandman during its original run, is made from the Whispering Iron from Locke and Key. Writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez join forces once again to expand the world of their creator-owned IDW series, promising fans that the story will continue to be canon within the world of Locke and Key, as opposed to so many inter-company crossovers that are forgotten right after they conclude.

In spite of bringing their series into contact with one of the most storied and beloved comics in the history of the medium, Hill said that he didn't get in his head about it. In fact, he pointed to another famous DC crossover as the bar he had to clear.

"Superman fought Muhammad Ali in one crossover, and people loved that," Hill told ComicBook. "And I remember I was like, 'did Muhammad Ali's head explode the first punch?' And so I figured, as long as we clear the Muhammad Ali Superman bar, we'll probably be fine."

Rodriguez was a little more serious, noting that while there is definitely a responsibility attached to such a crossover, they were happy with the fact that it flowed naturally from a story that the creative team wanted to tell.

"The thing that made it somewhat easier for us was that the idea came out of a story idea," said Rodriguez. "After we did the 'Open the Moon' story, in which we took our characters to heaven in a way, we started discussing what it would be if we take them to hell in the next story. And we started developing the thing from there. And then Joe one day, told me, 'What if this Hell is Sandman Hell, with Lucifer and all that?' And everything started growing even bigger from that point on. But I guess in a way, in terms of creative pressure, we sort of felt that relief from the point that we started with an actual story and not wanting to merge these two worlds just because it's cool to see them together."

Locke & Key is a pretty perfect fit for the Sandman Universe, but having a DC logo on these books might feel kind of odd to a lot of fans. Maybe a little less so when you hear how Hill perceives one particular aspect of the story...!

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"Gabe just finished the cover for issue two. And I'm looking at Mary on the cover, and she's got a sword in one hand, which is an important new introduction to the Locke & Key universe, that particular weapon," Hill explained. "She's got a sword in one hand, she's got the Key to Hell in the other, and she's wearing the harness with angel wings on it. And I'm looking at it, and I thought, 'Oh my God, I think we've created a superhero. Did we accidentally make a superhero?'"

Locke & Key/Sandman Universe: Hell and Gone #1 is on sale today.