"Locke & Key: Alpha #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Joe Hill
Illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez
$7.99, 48 Pages
Comic released on September 11th, 2013
Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez have been crafting the story of the Locke family since 2008. Now, after six stellar mini-series, they are preparing to bring Locke & Key to a close with two oversized issues called Alpha. There's no setup with this comic outside of a brief recap page. The characters are all in place. The weapons are drawn. The final battle is about to begin. Dodge stands with the Omega Door open; his plan almost realized. Can these kids stop this dark evil from spreading into their world? Or is it too late? The beauty of this series is that it can really go either way.
I am fortunate that I've recently caught up on the entire Locke & Key series. I binged on every graphic novel up until this point and as a result, I've come to care deeply for these characters. Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode feel like neighbors or distant cousins. I am genuinely concerned for their well being and based on the current situation as well as events in previous chapters, I'm not sure if there's a “happily ever after” ending in the works for them.
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While I won't spoil too much of the contents of Alpha #1, it's pretty clear that there's a body count. Joe Hill is a terrific writer and makes every single death an emotional one. I found myself on the verge of tears with certain panels even though they were featuring characters that I didn't even like. There are so many heart-wrenching scenes throughout this issue. Deaths are one thing, but Hill creates fantastic character studies with nearly every person that appears on the page. Each one is in the midst of their shining moment. How will they face down certain death?
On the other end of the spectrum, Dodge is a truly evil individual. This creature has tormented the Locke children (not to mention many others that he's come into contact with) from the moment he was reawakened. Now that he stands ready to see his dreams realized, he gets cocky. In typical super villain fashion, he begins to spout off his entire strategy. I thought I had him pegged, but his actual plan is far more sinister than I thought it would be. He goes into graphic detail about what he intends to do now that the Omega Door has been opened and the darkness lurking on the other side of it has a chance to escape.
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Artist Gabriel Rodriguez has outdone himself with this issue. There is not a weak panel in this entire oversized comic. He gets to play in the dark reality as well as Dodge's heinous vision for the future. One page really stands out though. As Dodge is explaining his plan, there's a shot of Keyhouse in flames with small rectangles spread out amongst the entire structure showing details of what's going on inside.
Locke & Key: Alpha #1 is packed with so much story that I honestly have no idea what Hill and Rodriguez can do with another 48 pages. There's just one issue left of this series, but in several ways I'd be content if this was the actual finale. While I'm glad that it's getting a satisfactory ending, I'll be truly sad to see it go.