It’s hard to describe the sound of your brain screaming like a teenager in the throes of Beatlemania. Whatever it is, that’s the sound my brain is making now. The final installment of author Joe Hill’s and illustrator Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key Series, Locke & Key Volume Six: Alpha & Omega, comes out on February 11th (sure you’ve read it already if you’re a comic book nerd, but for bookstore geeks like me the graphic novel is the thing). Alpha & Omega won’t just be a punch in the head, it will be a headlock (headlocke?) and body slam into awesome.
For maximum impact, I’m re-reading the entire series.
What starts as a gothic, gory thriller quickly takes a violent turn into an imagination-scape unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. If you grew up with scfi-fi or fantasy-loving friends, you’ve probably had your share of “wouldn’t it be cool if…” conversations. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could walk through walls? Wouldn’t it be cool if you could go back in time? Wouldn’t it be cool if you could lift a car?
Of course it would, but we’ve seen all that before. So you go deeper, getting silly, trying to one-up each other. Instead of lifting a car, it’s wouldn’t it be cool if you could become a car? You could spy on your enemies by giving them rides. Lots of planning goes on in cars and they’d have no idea they were riding in you the whole time. And if they’re really out to get you, then just crash yourself on purpose. Your enemies would be dead but you’d just be one repair shop away from good-as-new. Or almost; there would probably be some arthritis when you turned back into a human. You’d have to be careful not to get totaled or you’ll be a rusting hulk for the next few centuries…
Joe Hill has explored far beyond the next level 0f wouldn’t it be cool; he’s in the depths, where drooling things lurk and memories have teeth. That’s reason enough to explore the world of Locke & Key. Re-reading books 1-5, I’m reminded of the things that push it into greatness.
It’s not that the adults don’t see any magic – it’s the willful blindness they use in order not to see it.
It’s more than the fears and doubts which plague us, as mirrored in these characters – it’s how they’re personified.
It’s Gabriel Rodriguez’s Bode-point-of-view tribute to Calvin and Hobbes that opens Keys to the Kingdom. It’s the joy Joe Hill takes in freaking you right the fuck out. It’s adventure, family, shivers, and fun, and it pulls you through every page.
It’s bittersweet to see a story you love come to an end. I’ll be sad on February 12th (as much as I’d like to think I’ll be able to savor Alpha and Omega for a few days, I know it will be impossible) but before that happens, there’s still one last key to turn. My advice is to get caught up while you can, because a door is opening. You need to prepare yourself for what’s on the other side.