Locke and Key, Vol 5: Clockworks
Joe Hill (writer) and Gabriel Rodriguez (art)
Stop. No seriously. Stop. Have you been reading Locke and Key? If you’ve answered no you have two options. Option 1: Start reading Locke and Key. Seriously, this is an awesome comic that is so consistent in its greatness that it boggles the mind. Option 2: Leave. Yes, get out. Come back later if you want but know that I will pity you for having not read any Locke and Key. Obviously, I’d prefer you take Option 1. It’d really be better for both of us, but if you aren’t a person who likes horror, or the supernatural, or are just a general curmudgeon who enjoys being contrary you can probably stop reading and go do something else. I should also point out that if you haven’t read any Locke and Key that this review will most definitely contain spoilers for the earlier volumes. You’ve been warned.
Locke and Key, Volume 5: Clockworks is an origin story of sorts. It may have taken us four previous volumes and immeasurable pain and suffering for the Locke family but here we get the truth, a look back at the past and origins of the Keys that have sent ripples throughout the history of the Locke family. It is of course entirely appropriate that the primary method through which we learn about the history of the Keyhouse is through a Key, a very special key that lets its user step back and see the past. It is a clever use of flashback that works entirely within the set of rules that collaborators Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez have set forth.
The initial story jumps back to the Revolutionary War when American Militia are trapped hiding from the British in the caves beneath Lovecraft. There they find something horrible, something that the recently orphaned journeyman Locksmith Ben Locke must help to seal away. Of course it is revealed that it is Ty and Kinsey who have discovered the hourglass key and who journey back into the past first to the origins of Keyhouse then later witnessing the trial and tribulations of their father and his friends, the Keepers of the Keys. Clockworks steps away, at least a little, from the outright tension of the previous volumes. It unfurls at a bit of a slower pace offering information instead of action and, for the first time in the series, seems to focus entirely on building tension without a major release at its conclusion.
Word is that Clockworks is the penultimate series before the main storyline concludes (Locke and Key Omega launches with a #1 in November). That being the case the change of pace here makes sense as we seem to be building towards an epic conclusion. Hill and Rodriquez have crafted a vibrant world that oscillates easily and often rapidly between wonder and terror. Rodriquez’s art continues to impress and his particular and exquisite attention to detail in both the environment and the faces of his characters is absolutely essential to sell the story. Hill’s masterful writing, his ability to convey the both the vulnerability and strength of Kinsey and the impish humor of Bode (or here the sinister machination of Bode) through words becomes something even greater when paired with Rodriquez’s abilities. Indeed Locke and Key, as a whole and not just in Clockworks, has been about as perfect a pairing of writer and artist as one is likely to see.
Look, with the series ending in 2013 all I can say (and I’ve said in every review of this series so far) is read Locke and Key. This is, according to me, one of the best comic book series of the 21st century.