I was fortunate enough to get an eARC of Locke & Key, volume 6 via Netgalley a while back, but I was reluctant to start reading because I was a bit apprehensive about the series ending. On the one hand, Locke & Key has been one of the most consistently well written and well drawn comics, so I knew it would be a helluva finale. On the other hand, Hill and Rodriguez have never shied away from pain, horror, violence, and sadness in this story, so I knew I was in for trouble. And this volume met and exceeded both expectations: a mix of terrible and wonderful, volume 6 will cement Lock & Key’s reputation as a classic.
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR VOLUMES 1-5.
Volume 6 picks up shortly after where volume 5 left off: Dodge has taken over Bode’s body, collected all the keys, and is dead set on releasing his fellow demons. And it’s prom in Lovecraft, where the traditional after party is down in the caves. Everything’s set for a showdown.
For the most part, Hill and Rodriguez focus on two set-pieces: the caves and Keyhouse. And between these two locales, every character–monster, person, and otherwise–from volumes 1 through 5 come out to play. All the characters readers have come to know and love are put in jeopardy and given a chance to rise or fall in dramatic fashion. I was very happy to see all the threads woven together for the finale.
I was especially happy to see the involvement of the adult characters in this book, especially Nina, the Locke matriarch. In the previous volumes, she had faded into the background a bit (which is fitting, given that the magic fades as kids grow up), but in this volume she returns to the foreground and takes on a more active role.
Additionally, I thought the conclusion was a great bookend to the story’s opening. The story comes full circle in a nice twist on the ending. Which leads me to my last point: the writing and artwork are top notch, deserving of every word of praise they get. Hill has written a story that is scary, sad, funny, loving. He has also created a cast of characters who grow, get hurt, and are metaphorically beautifully drawn. And they are literally beautifully drawn by Rodriguez, whose style helps build the drama, the tension, and the suspense as much as Hill’s story.
In my experience, comics tend to have either a great story or great artwork, but not here. Locke & Key is a collaboration between heavyweights, and both pack a powerful punch. This is an incredible series that is destined to be a classic. There is a richness and depth here that will reward re-reading.