Locke & Key, Vol. 5: Clockworks Written by Joe Hill
Art by Gabriel Rodriguez
Colors by Jay Fotos
Letters by Robbie Robbins
Series Edited by Chris Ryall
Collection Edited by Justin Eisinger
Collection Designed by Robbie Robbins IDW Publishing
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Cover Price: $24.99
Right off the bat I’m putting a light spoiler warning at the top for Locke & Key Volumes 1 – 4. If you haven’t read them yet, get on it.
Remember reading that issue of Locke & Key where they play with the head key for the first time? The key that goes into the back of anyone’s neck, makes the top of your cranium disappear like you’re the Kool-Aid Man and allows you to remove memories and emotions and oddly allows you to peer into your own mind? And that, best of all it’s a magic that only kids can see? It’s one of my fondest memories reading the series so far. It cemented that while the book would also feature edge-of-your-seat terror with truly warm characters you feel like you know, there’d also be space for a particular form of magic: an enchanted, childlike sense of magic. If you’re like me and you wait to read the book in those handsome trades, well, ta-da, Locke & Key Volume 5 Clockworks is here.
By the end of the previous volume the typical hunter/prey dynamics between the Locke siblings and Zack/Dodge were upended. Ty and Kinsey are taking a respite, unaware that their younger brother Bode is possessed by the evil spirit that’s been plaguing them all this time. A time travel key is discovered and they learn the origin of the keys. Then the story of their father, Rendall, and his circle of friends finally gets explored in fuller detail. By turns a great tragedy and a slow-burn teen horror film their story twists from one of excitement and wonder to hubris and betrayal before landing in chaos and regret.
Writer Joe Hill stealthily evades making any scene feel explicitly like exposition while he clears up plot holes that go back to the original storylines. The connection between the keys and the Locke lineage stretches back into history, to the point of family lore. There’s meaning there, I think, that these keys – for better and for worse – are tied to the Locke family. Hill has created an origin myth that strengthens the original storyline without mimicking it and is compelling enough on it’s own. It’s a bit like Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, unless you’re one of the unfortunate souls who hated that flick, in which case never mind, it’s nothing like that… and you have my condolences.
Gabriel Rodriguez’s art is reliably amazing. Little easter eggs are strewn throughout the book, rewarding multiple rereadings. Each character is given not just a distinct body but a very distinct face, even though the Lockes, for instance, all have a familial look around the brow and nose. Oh, and, of course, he works like a masterful director letting the book feel whimsical one moment, heartbreaking at another turn and then does a goat being dragged into hell while laughing hysterically (possibly the most metal thing I’ve ever seen?).
Knowing that volume 6 will be the final chapter in the series made this a bittersweet read. While I’m so grateful to have many long-standing mysteries solved, I can see the momentum building up for a big finale, which I suspect means no more discovering new characters and being surprised at how attached to them I can get, no more slow-moving stories like the issue entitled February in Vol. 4. We’ve just gotten to really know Rendell and his group of friends, who’ve been such large figures in the series so far – there could easily be a rich series dedicated to them. This is a world swimming in possibilities, and while it saddens me that it’s ending, I appreciate that there’s a definitive end. Like the kids who grow up and can’t see magic anymore, the fact that there’s a sunset makes it so precious.