It’s finally here, folks: the showdown between the Locke family and the demon Dodge. Locke & Key: Alpha #1 is the culmination of all of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’ work on the series, which began all the way back in February 2008. Now, almost 40 issues later, it’s nearly over. The last issue comes out next month, but the finale begins here. Check out the description from IDW:
In the second-to-the-last issue of Locke & Key, the damned and the saved alike will make their final stand in the Drowning Cave, in a clash of blood and fire. The shadows have never been darker and the end has never been closer. Turn the key and open the last door; it’s time to say goodbye.
Alpha had ridiculously high expectations to meet, the biggest one perhaps being that we all want Hill to blow our minds one last time. But with a story as carefully crafted as this one, there are only so many options available for the ending. If you’ve almost finished building a Swiss watch, there’s only one way the remaining pieces will fit that allows the watch to run. This means that, while Hill’s story isn’t terribly shocking, it fulfills most of the series’ promises and goes a long way toward wrapping everything up in a pretty bow before the final issue.
Tyler is able to finish the key he’s been working on. Rufus arrives at Key House. There’s a lot of tragedy. There are a fair number of HELL YEAH! moments. I have my share of complaints, or at least things I might have done differently. But these are small aesthetic changes that no one in their right mind would really consider important.
Ultimately I only have two problems. First, I’m concerned that so much has been resolved in this first issue, there won’t be much conflict left for the last one. A little denouement leaves the audience satisfied. Too much could turn the final issue into the last 45 minutes of The Lord of the Rings.
The other problem is the price. At $7.99, Alpha isn’t cheap. Yes, there are 32 pages of story, and yes, there are some bonuses at the back, but it feels like IDW knows they won’t lose any readers at this stage of the game, so there’s no reason not too charge a bit more.
I love the way Gabriel Rodriguez draws fire. No, scratch that. I love the way Gabriel Rodriguez draws everything. He doesn’t get to exercise his architectural talents as much as usual, but his layouts are more structured, almost formal. There are a lot of dynamic angles, my favorite being a shot of Nina from below as a shadow monster picks her up, the trail of her torch ringing her in a fiery arc. The scene has a great feeling of lift. Rodriguez is always great, but this may be his best work yet (I feel like I say that a lot.)
Locke & Key: Alpha #1 won’t ignite a twitterstorm the way Breaking Bad did this week, but it’s still a great issue, and one that will satisfy a lot of readers who’ve been waiting for years. And remember, in 1 issue, it’s all over.