Locke and Key, vol. 5

Locke and Key 5Summary: Tyler and Kinsey Locke have no idea that their now-deceased nemesis, Lucas “Dodge” Caravaggio, has taken over the body of their younger brother, Bode. With unrestricted access to Keyhouse, Dodge’s ruthless quest to find the Omega Key and open the Black Door is almost complete. But Tyler and Kinsey have a dangerous key of their own – one that can unlock all the secrets of Keyhouse by opening a gateway to the past. The time has come for the Lockes to face their own legacy and the darkness behind the Black Door. Because if they don’t learn from their family history, they may be doomed to repeat it, and time is running out!

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Locke and Key: Clockworks, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez 8.25

WARNING: this blurb contains fairly significant spoilers.

‘Clockworks’ is the fifth story arc of ‘Locke and Key‘ by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. After the dramatic turns of ‘Keys to the Kingdom‘, what were the authors to do? How could they follow it up? The answer: they didn’t. Instead, they decided to go back in time and provide us with all the keys to our many questions.

…before wrapping everything up in the much-anticipated finale, ‘Alpha and Omega’.

With the help of a new key, the Timeshift Key, Tyler and Kinsey travel back to the 18th century and observe their ancestors’ roles in the unfolding drama – as keymakers and gatekeepers. They also go to the 1980s, to see what transpired when their father became aware of the keys and how he and his friends made use of them.

In this fashion, our protagonists are finally filled in on many of the mysteries of Keyhouse. And so are we. Some might think that this is clever, but, personally I think that it’s slightly mundane – especially since we don’t know where the key was found or why it wasn’t used for personal gain by the Locke family thus far (think about it).

But it does serve the purpose of establishing all the needed backstory all the while involving our characters – something that would otherwise not be possible. This was a nice touch. And all this backstory is important at this juncture, because we really need to know what set everything up in the first place, how we got to where we are.

So I’m certainly not criticising Hill for the contrivance. But I won’t applaud him either: there might have been more clever ways to go about this, and this is probably the second easiest solution (the easiest being to simply write prequel/origin issues with no tie-ins to the current timeline). It’s not enough to impress me.

The fact remains that he did a good job of filling in the blanks, tying up many of the loose ends. The problem is that, in so doing, he also created new ones, gaps or implausibilities that nagged at me some. I would really love to know if he had planned out the whole series in advance or only developed it after the fact, because it might explain these sudden lapses.

  • If the Locke family has been aware of the gateway in the caves below, and proceeded to sealing it, how is it that it became a military facility in the 20th century? Wouldn’t they have ownership of it or conceal it? And how could the military set up shop in there and not find the gateway? And, if they did, why have they abandoned it?

  • There were no consequences for the deaths of Mark and Kim. They died, but none of their friends had to explain this to the authorities. How did they get away with it? Did they hide it? Or did Hill simply forget that this would have real-world repercussions? I hated that this just slipped through as though nothing happened.

  • Similarly, what about Erin losing her memory or Lucas turning into a jerk? How did Rendell and Ellie explain that to their family, friends and the authorities? People don’t just lose their memories like that or change overnight. They just don’t. But it remains unexplained, and it’s too important a detail to gloss over as Hill did.

The cleverest work comes from Rodriguez. His artwork is always stellar, but here he included small self-referential nods to previous chapters of the series, by re-using settings and adapting them to different characters, creating parallels between their histories. He also created mirror covers for the individual issues, with #1 matched to #6, #2 to #5 and #3 to #4. Nice.

Those with a keen eye will surely love reading this volume Locke and Key. Frankly, anyone who’s gotten this far into the series, will already be prone to noticing Rodriguez’ visual flair and his little flourishes. He’s absolutely brilliant and he’s found a terrific partner in Joe Hill. They clearly bring out the best in each other.

Hill’s writing is still quite solid, and there are plenty of terrific ideas spread across the book, but he’s weakening his grip as the series unfolds. Still, so long as he delivers a terrific conclusion in the final installments of Locke and Key, I’ll be glad to lock these comparatively minor lapses away in the past and throw away the key.

This is, overall, too fantastic a series to let such details dog my appreciation. The next issue will decide the matter, however. And, frankly, it can’t come soon enough for me.

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