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Sunday, August 13, 2023

Locke & Key Vol. 5: Clockworks

 Title: Locke & Key Vol. 5: Clockworks

ISBN: 9781613776995

Price: $17.99

Publisher/Year: IDW Publishing, 2013

Artist:  Gabriel Rodríguez

Writer: Joe Hill

Collects: Locke & Key: Clockworks #1-6

Rating: 4.5/5

As we know I’ve really been enjoying this re-read of Joe Hill’s dark fantasy horror series “Locke and Key”, though I’ve been saying the whole time ‘I don’t remember when and how a lot of this is all going to come together’. The exposition has been building and building and it’s been getting close to the end of the series and there are still a lot of questions to be answered. I remembered really loving the series overall, but I think that the first time I read this I was like ‘okay, I have two books left and few answers, is this going to pay off?’. Because it has to pay off.

And my God, does it pay off. Everything comes together so perfectly and with such thoughtfulness and intricacy that I was just blown away, even though it is my second time reading this book. Joe Hill’s storytelling prowess is at its best in this volume.

There are two major reveals in this story right when things have started to get dire for the Lockes (even if they don’t realize how dire). Given that Kinsey killed Dodge, and Dodge (or whatever it is) moved its consciousness into Bode’s body without them knowing it, the race is on for the Lockes to discover the truth before Bode/Dodge can find the Omega Key. The first reveal that we see we jump into right away, which is the origin of the keys, Keyhouse, the demon, and how the Lockes are connected to it. And we go all the way back to the Revolutionary War, in which we meet a young locksmith named Ben Locke, who discovers that hidden Minutemen have opened a door deep in a cave that has let an evil out that they are trying to put back and contain. The first time I read this I remember thinking that it went on a little long, but this time I thought that this origin story of the Black Door and the keys was pitch perfect. I loved the setting, I loved the connection to the Locke Family (and the backstory for the Lockes, who were victims of Red Coat tyranny), and I loved how Hill sprang this all on us but still managed to make it feel in depth and well explored. He lays his magical system out bare, and it falls into place with ease.

Our second big reveal is we finally, FINALLY, get to see how Rendell Locke and his friends ran afoul Dodge, as well as explanations as to how back in the day Dodge Caravaggio became the Dodge that we know now, how Ellie Whedon became so broken, and how Erin Voss lost her memories and her consciousness, and how ALL of it relates to the keys. And it’s done in a way that doesn’t feel super exposition-y, as we get another key reveal that allows for Tyler and Kinsey to go back in time to see everything happen, and to get a new perspective on their late father. While I do think that we didn’t get enough exploration of all of Rendell’s friends (specifically his girlfriend Kim; I appreciated that Hill tried to make her complicated, but she just came off as cruel and privileged more than anything else), the backstory itself is so fantastic, so heart wrenching, and so SCARY as a bunch of kids who have been bestowed a monumental responsibility of guarding keys get too complacent… and all hell breaks loose. Good God is this an emotional story arc, as we know how things turned out for a few of our characters, but we didn’t know how they got to that point. Hill makes it so complex, satisfying, and devastating, and it adds compounded grief as two kids who lost their father in a terrible act of violence have to see his biggest mistake that ruined lives as it unfolds. Goddammit, it hurts, and it’s beautiful.

And the artwork continues to be great. I can’t praise Gabriel Rodríguez enough, and he has this way of creating the most grotesque and disturbing images as well as the most tender and joyous.

This penultimate volume is fantastic. We will finish up this re-read with the next and last volume, “Omega”. I’m not sure I’m ready to be emotionally destroyed by it, but it’s time regardless.

Fantastic pay off for all the build up before it, “Locke & Key: Clockworks” is the strongest in the series so far.

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