Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Locke and Key Vol. 5: Clockworks: The History of the Locke Family, Revealed

Locke and Key Vol. 5: Clockworks
Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
July 2012

If you haven't read the previous volumes of Locke and Key, stop reading this review right now.

Seriously, just go to your local comic book store, bookseller, or visit and just buy the first four volumes of Locke and Key because if you haven't already read these a) I'm going to spoil it for you, and b) this is one of the best comics on the market and you owe it to yourself to read it.

For those of you who have been following this story from the beginning, you shouldn't need the Head Key to convince you to read this comic.  

Volume 5 is the beginning of the end for our story, and Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez kick off this volume by revealing secrets that have been kept hidden since the book began. The history of the keys, the secret of the Black Door, the truth about Dodge, and the connection between the events of the present and those of the past: everything is revealed in this volume.

Going into this, I had my suspicions that the Locke family were responsible for the forging of the keys, and it turns out I was right. The book begins as Benjamin Locke and his sister Miranda watch their parents hung by the British army for potentially harbouring traitors during the American Revolution.

It turns out they were hiding Adam Crais and his men in the mysterious Drowning Cave, but Crais, who you might remember from his statue in previous volumes and in the back matter to these volumes, and his men are facing more trouble from more than just the British soliders. 

Ben and Miranda sneak off to visit Crais and his men in the Drowning Cave, and here we learn how everything began. We learn about the Black Door, it's Lovecraftian connections (Ia! Ia! Shub-Niggurath!), the Whispering Iron, and how the door was sealed shut by Benjamin Locke, ancestor to the Locke family. 

Tyler and Kinsey learn this too, as they discover a key that allows them to witness anything that happened in Keyhouse before 1999. With the key, the turn the clock back to 1988, when Rendell Locke and his friends attempted to open the Black Door to let a demon through. 

As much as I appreciated learning how everything began, the story of what happened to Rendell and his friends is what really won me over with this volume. Watching everything go so horribly wrong for Rendell and his friends was heartbreaking, especially where Dodge and Ellie are concerned. I've had a soft spot for Ellie's character all the way up until her death in the last volume, no matter how much shit Dodge put her and Rufus through, but in this volume, watching her relationship with Dodge and seeing what a genuinely nice guy he used to be before he became enslaved by a demon from beyond the door really made it clear why she was so inclined to trust him and love him when he returned from the grave. 

This book did something that I completely did not expect, it made the monstrous Dodge into a tragic figure.

Several tragedies play out in this volume one after another, whether it's Dodge's possession or the death of Rendell's mother's ghost after she is pushed out of the well house, but it never feels emotionally exhausting or depressing, and this is a testament both to Hill's gifted storytelling as well as Rodriguez's skills as an artist. Throughout this series, these two have been able to maintain a sense of awe and wonder, even while this story has gone down some very dark paths. This volume is probably the darkest and most gruesome yet, but it is also the most touching, and in my opinion, one of the best volumes in the series.

Locke and Key is one of my favourite ongoing series, and although I am sad to see the Locke family's story is coming to a close with the next volume, I can't wait to see how this dark fantasy epic is finally resolved.

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