When past meets present: a review of Locke & Key, Vol. 5: Clockworks

Locke & Key

If you’re not reading Locke & Key from IDW Publishing, then you’re missing one of the best series in comics now. This review contains no spoilers.

Locke & Key, Vol. 5: ClockworksLocke & Key, Vol. 5: Clockworks by Joe Hill (writer) and Gabriel Rodriguez (illustrator)

Why is Locke & Key one of the most successful comics out there? The answer has something to do with the strength of writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez’s partnership. Hill introduced an original idea in 2008 with a strong follow-through — every issue pushes the story forward and keeps readers begging for more. Then, there are the gothic illustrations, which give the main estate, Keyhouse, that dark and foreboding mood we need to wonder what secrets are hiding inside. The monsters look real, the people are visibly distressed and haunted by their past and present lives, and shadows are everywhere. When you can’t see them, you can feel them in between the pages.

Locke & Key is rich with history and a growing darkness that’s unlocked with every finding of every key. We know there’s evil among the good guys, and it’s masquerading as one of them, listening to their conversations and manipulating them. When’s the last time a comic both shook you to your core with authentic, human feeling and messed with your head as much as it did the characters’?

They have dimension, as big as the house. They mourn. They repress. They wonder. They bottle their emotions away or pour them out uncontrollably. These are characters in suffering, desperately clawing at whatever can set things right. Unfortunately, that counts for their enemies as well, and each side wants to win just as bad.

Clockworks prepares readers for the final chapter by bringing together all those secrets and knowledge and giving it to the Locke children — and to us. That’s power they can use. This volume is more about the people who came before than its main cast, but Hill still manages to prepare them for the battle ahead. Issues need resolving beforeΒ Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode can move on and take back Keyhouse. It’s about the struggle of putting their lives back together, of confronting the grief within themselves.

Locke & Key always contains as many surprises as it does secrets, and each cliffhanger is more intense than the last. Only now, the stakes are higher than ever.

Bottom line: Essential reading.

Grade: A

Thanks to Matt for lending me the book!

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