Friday, 7 September 2012

Developing Love For Lovecraft (Graphic Illustrations Series)

For those already initiated into the Hill/Rodriquez realm of Locke and Key, Clockworks, the fifth volume within the saga will need little introduction.  For the previously uninitiated, Locke and Key is centred around Keyhouse, a New England mansion containing doors which transform those who pass through them and which also houses a malevolent creature bent upon opening the most dangerous door of all… 

As is suggested by the title, the “doors” are opened by a succession of keys, capable of everything from transforming an individual into a ghost, to letting one open one’s own head to glimpse the memories it contains within it.

Having relocated to Keyhouse after the murder of their father at the outset of Welcome to LovecraftClockworks sees the Locke family brought full circle, back to the events which precede their arrival at the Keyhouse premises in Massachussetts and which have shaped their nemesis, Lucas “Dodge” Caravaggio prior to his descent into the merciless killer the children are faced with in the present day.  Harking back to past events is of course a pattern which has been seen on a number of occasions throughout the course of the narrative arc.  Clockworks, however, is an opportunity for this aspect to be explored in detail prior to the denouement we are already aware will follow within the forthcoming Omega.

The instalment is timely, given the reader is fully invested within the fate of the Locke children by this stage - and the stakes are high.  Dodge already has control of the youngest Locke sibling Bode's body; something neither Tyler nor Kinsey, his elder brother and sister are aware of.  This grants him unrestricted access to Keyhouse in his search to find the Omega key which will allow him to open the Black Door and release what is contained beyond it.

The timing of Clockworks' explanations is clever.  By holding back on the action and presenting us with an explanation as to how the characters have found themselves in the present position, the conclusion itself is guaranteed additional impact and resonance.  Having already seen the children in the aftermath of their father's death and the manner in which they are forced to cope with it, whilst simultaneously finding their feet at a new school and establishing new social circles, we now see the manner in which the death itself will come to pass, given we are privy to Dodge's transformation from friend to foe.  Thus pre-prepared for the way in which the death will ultimately affect the children, the foreshadowing of it via flashback hits home more sharply than if the chronology had been reversed.

Further, the exploration of the relationship between Rendell, the Locke children's father, and the boy who will subsequently become Dodge renders the character much more than simply a cardboard cut-out villain bound upon a course of evil from which he cannot deviate simply for plot purposes.

Sacrifice and the extent to which this is necessary for Dodge to be successfully defeated is a key theme (no pun intended) within Clockworks.  This applies not only to Rendell, the children's father but also a number of the members of his original band of friends.  Thus, there are echoes of the Spiderman motto concerning the great power accompanying great responsibility here.  Ultimately, this is shadowed by regret at its misuse by the time we have explored the manner in which Dodge becomes evil and origins of the keys we have seen the children utilise throughout the story arc.

In amongst the question answering we also see exactly how Erin lost her memories, what lies behind the door Dodge seeks to open and even how Dodge became the girl first encountered in Welcome to Lovecraft, all of which is dealt with in a suitably satisfying manner, as opposed to simply feeling like loose ends being tied with haste.  Again, this is another example of the manner in which the narrative has come full circle for the purposes of the present volume.

Neither narrative nor illustrations pull any punches and Dodge's anticipation of his first killing spree is provided in a gory two page spread towards the conclusion of the volume well deserving of its multiple Eisner nominations.  Both are equally apt (if not for the faint hearted) and provide a clear example of the extent to which the storytelling abilities of both writer and illustrator mesh so successfully throughout Locke and Key.  Possibly, therefore, the only negative aspect of Locke and Key is that Omega marks the final chronological volume of our journey within the original world of Keyhouse and its inhabitants.

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