“Locke & Key: Omega #1”

(w) Joe Hill (a) Gabriel RodriguezIDW Publishing$3.99
(w) Joe Hill (a) Gabriel Rodriguez
IDW Publishing

Locke & Key is one of the best comic series of this era, but like all great things, it must come to an end.  That end begins this week with “Omega #1,” the first part of the sixth and final mini-series.  If you haven’t read the first five volumes of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s award-winning saga, go do that right now.  You’re already going to the comic shop today.  I can wait.

    There will now be spoilers for those earlier volumes.
    When we last left the Locke family at the end of Clockworks, the demon Dodge, still secretly possessing youngest child Bode’s body, had finally gotten his hands on the Omega Key.  With it, he obtains the means to allow the demons of another dimension into ours.  It was a helluva cliffhanger, but Hill and Rodriguez decide to let that plot simmer for one more issue, and instead use this issue to prepare us for the end.
    The issue, appropriately titled “Our Regrets,” primarily focuses supporting character Scot Kavanaugh as he makes a documentary for senior graduation.  Going from student to student, he asks them each “If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?”  It’s a character piece, showing most of the main and supporting cast and where they are at in their lives as they enter the final act.
    I have to start with Gabriel Rodriguez’s art.  It’s as stunning as ever.  Most of this issue isn’t even talking heads, but lengthy monologues by singular characters.  Despite that, it never gets boring, and Rodriguez is to credit.  The man has vast array of talents, but his greatest is his ability to make his characters act.  His style, which I honestly wasn’t sold on at first glance, is amazing at making static pictures come alive.  You can see and understand every bit lip, every held back tear.  As these characters go through emotional gauntlets, pouring their souls out to the camera, he makes you feel for them like they’re your friend.
    The issue doesn’t really advance the plot even a little, but that’s OK.  As a fan of the series and the characters, I wanted this.  One of the greatest joys in reading Locke & Key has been watching the children evolve as characters.  What started as a horror comic became a fun fantasy as the kids became used to their new status quo before becoming a generation-spanning epic as it draws to a close.  Joe Hill slows it down, brings us one last close look at the characters we’ve come to love, and readies us to say goodbye.
    I still remember when I bought the first volume, Welcome to Keyhouse.  I was bored at the comic shop, looking for something new.  I still consider that impulse buy to be the best I’ve made in regards to comics.  It quickly became one of my all time favorites. I’ve rabidly recommended it to all of my comic-reading friends (forced them to take and read it), and have feverishly looked forward to each new release.  I cannot wait to see how it ends.