This fourth collection of the Locke & Key series is clearly moving into the climax of the entire series arc. (There are two more volumes to go.) The pace is often much faster than in earlier parts of the series; chapter three (“February”) in particular barrels through a whole mess of events, often realizing a whole complicated day’s adventure in a single panel. Over the course of this collection, six new magic keys are introduced, a pace that more than doubles the rate of the earlier numbers. The graphic violence is probably more extreme than in any of the prior volumes as well.
The motivation of our prime villain Dodge becomes clearer to the reader in these stories, at the same time as his culpability starts to become evident to the Locke family. It appears that the stakes may be far higher than the well-being of the Lockes or Keyhouse. But not all the evil in these comics is supernatural. The commentary on homophobia that had been introduced earlier in the series is supplemented with some candid observations of/on racism. Some readers might find these a little preachy, but I thought they were handled artfully, and they speak to the tenor of the times.
In the first chapter of Keys to the Kingdom Hill and Rodriguez pay very overt tribute to Bill Watterson, with Bode Locke as an obvious stand-in for Calvin. And in “Casualties” (#22 of the original comic) Bode and Rufus Whedon populate another homage to earlier comics in the form of an invented Squadron Strange action adventure. The Locke & Key series has such beautiful art and rich storytelling that I’m sure it will someday be the object of such admirations and acknoweldgements from a younger generation of comics creators. [via]
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