LOCKE & KEY, VOL. 5 by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez — a Review

Volume 4 of the Locke and Key series (reviewed here) ended in such a terrible, shocking way that I couldn’t wait to pick up Locke & Key, Volume 5: Clockworks, written by Joe Hill (Twitter) and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (Twitter). And it certainly didn’t disappoint. I’ll try to keep this spoiler-free, so I apologize if some of my comments are vague.

When Volume 4 ended, I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. The thing is, after readers get a glimpse of how Tyler Locke isn’t keeping it together as well as we thought, Volume 5 is almost entirely about what has happened before: during the Revolutionary War and the story of Rendell Locke and his friends. Throughout Volumes 1-4, I thought Hill and Rodriguez had seeded enough clues about these two time periods (e.g., the snippets of diaries in the back of the books about the creation of the keys) that I knew enough. Turns out, I knew only the broad strokes. But it’s the fine details of the stories that really let this volume soar.

There’s a sense of dread about this volume that is unlike any of the others. In fact, I had the hardest time reading this one because I knew it would end very badly. I watched so many characters commit mistake after mistake after mistake. Yet, these mistakes seem inevitable given the characters’ motivations. Clockworks is a fantastic example of how powerful a tragedy can be.

And although I’ve focused the majority of my review on Hill’s storytelling, I have to remind everyone how much I’m enjoying Rodriguez’s artwork. In particular, the glimpses inside Tyler’s and Dodge’s heads are fantastic, but for very different reasons. Rodriguez perfectly captures a teenage boy’s mind, and his version of Dodge’s head is, well, hellish. And I’m so glad that this Volume has several one- and two-page panels. I find myself staring at them for long periods, struck by the tremendous amount of information and beauty they convey.

I’m almost sad to see that the Locke & Key series is ending. But it should be one helluva climax. It’s as if all the pieces have been set in place, and the plot is switching to the endgame. Things are about to get bloody, I’m sure. But one way or another, it will be over. Perhaps that’s why the next (and final) volume is titled Omega. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I can’t wait. This is truly one of the most incredible series I’ve read, comics or otherwise.

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