Title: Locke & Key Vol. 6: Alpha & Omega
Publisher/Year: IDW Publishing, 2014
Artist: Gabriel Rodríguez
Writer: Joe Hill
Collects: Locke & Key: Omega #1-5, Locke & Key: Alpha #1-2
I feel like my re-read of “Locke & Key” went by in a flash. It could be because my re-read of “Sandman” was a few volumes longer, but I think that it’s also the fact that Joe Hill has created something that has depth, complexity, and some great horror and fantasy moments that is well packaged and easily digestible. I found myself kind of dreading the end, as I knew that it was going to pack an emotional wallop, but once I picked up “Alpha and Omega”, I basically devoured it in a sitting, taking breaks only to weep into my hands because of said wallop.
I don’t even know where to begin as I review the end of this series. Hill has built up to this moment, and you know that there are going to be a lot of casualties and a lot of collateral damage as Dodge makes his final moves into trying to open the Black Door, but when it centers around graduation night and a high school party in the caves, the stakes are raised to the highest point that the series has seen. It’s up to Tyler and Kinsey to try and stop Dodge, though they have no idea that Dodge has inhabited Bode’s body. So when Dodge does start wreaking havoc, all through the body of a child, it’s just heart-rendering to see. Especially since all the chaos that unfolds involves teenagers, and therefore other children. No one ever said that Hill was sunshine and rainbows, but I had forgotten just how goddamn bleak this last arc is as the horrors unleash and demons do their best to overtake Lovecraft, and perhaps the world at large. It’s a great reveal, it all comes together and makes sense in terms of what we’ve seen so far, and it is a fantastic climactic story arc for this series with awesome horror moments and full fledged mythology. And a whole lot of death, a lot of it coming for characters we have come to care for.
But there are also a lot of wonderful bits of hope throughout this tale. We’ve followed the Locke children (as well as their mother and uncle to lesser degrees), and now we get to see them come to the end of their journey and to live up to the potential of who they are meant to be, as Lockes and as people in general. Tyler and Kinsey have come so far as characters, and through the highs and lows of both I came to just fall in love with them both all over again, just like I did the first time I read it. They are teenagers with a lot of pain in their hearts, and they are messy and damaged, but they are also, ultimately, great people who love their family, even as the family has gone through something terrible and hasn’t figured out how to come through the other side just yet. Hill writes them both as incredibly human, and as such sometimes they just made me want to throttle them, and other times I want to hug them and never let them go. By the time we got to the end of their journeys, Tyler’s in particular, I was a weepy mess.
There are a couple things that don’t work. One is how Hill writes Jordan’s, Tyler’s girlfriend’s, final storyline. I feel like we never really got to fully explore Jordan as a character, as she was relegated to ‘bad girl with a heart of gold who pushes those who care for her away’. We’ve seen it before. She’s more there to give Tyler the ability to learn and grow, and I felt like she deserved more than that. There is also one big moment (no spoilers here) that didn’t really get the explanation I think that it needed, but ultimately these things are minor within the grand scheme of what does end up working. Because so much works.
And one more shout out to Gabriel Rodríguez. His artwork is so fantastic, and there are a lot of moments in this book that have emotional beats that fully rely on the visuals as opposed to what is being said.
“Locke & Key: Alpha and Omega” is a near perfect ending to a fantastic series. I am so glad that I decided to revisit it, as I feel like I got even more out of it this time than I did on my initial read. I imagine I will revisit the Locke Family in the future, as they and the story they have is a wondrous dark fantasy horror creation with so much heart.
A practically perfect ending that made me weep, “Locke & Key (Vol. 6): Alpha & Omega” brings it all to the finish with emotion, horror, and hope.