Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
Colorist: Jay Fotos
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Editor: Chris Ryall
Locke & Key: Dog Days is the latest “Golden Age” one-shot about the family of Chamberlin Locke. It will be collected in the seventh trade, along with Small World, Open the Moon, and Grindhouse. However, unlike the other three, this issue features two stories — one set in the past and, finally, another set in the here-and-now. For fans eager for more tales from Keyhouse, “Dog Days” somewhat scratches that itch, while the second story, “Nailed It,” briefly shows us how the Lockes are fairing after the events of Alpha and Omega.
“Dog Days” is the bulk of the issue and is structured as a series of short comic strips following the boyhood escapades of Mary Locke’s two sons and their most loyal friend and good boy, Lloyd (who all first appeared in the gruesome pages of Grindhouse). Rodriguez’s artwork has always had an inherent kinetic energy, and it lends itself really well to this issue. Many of the strips didn’t require any dialogue because of it.
Compared to the other one-shots, the story in “Dog Days” is not that substantial as it strays from the bloody mythos of Locke & Key for a lighthearted romp in the backyard forest of Keyhouse. Grindhouse and Small World were straight-up horror stories, and Open the Moon was an emotional gut punch, but Dog Days offers a brief, childlike respite as Hill and Rodriguez play around in the world they created. Using magic has often been a double-edged key for the Lockes–with plenty of terrible unintended consequences–but showing the more mundane and fun uses for the keys rounds out the world-building and shows how the Locke family have made Keyhouse their home despite the pain and horrors they’ve endured. This echoes in the final pages of “Nailed It,” as the current generation of the family tries to mend the pieces of their broken home.
“Nailed It” is a short read, though, as it merely catches us up with the current residents of Keyhouse. As previously mentioned, the family is in the midst of rebuilding, and it looks like Tyler may have a lucrative career as a house flipper ahead of him. It doesn’t reveal anything about where the story is headed, but it does prime us for the next chapter.
Speaking of what comes next, in a footnote, Hill and Rodriguez highlight that readers can look forward to one more story in Locke & Key: The Golden Age, “followed by an unbelievable Locke & Key event like no other.” I discussed how Small World was hinted at in the back matter for Grindhouse in my previous review. In the author’s notes for the Toy Room (where Tyler fought stuffed bears in Keys to the Kingdom), Hill writes: “We have an idea for a short story that can explain the existence of malevolent stuffed bears, [but first] we have to tell you about the dollhouse … ” I expect the last one-shot might be the short story regarding these malevolent bears, OR it might be Locke & Key: Battlegrounds, which Hill teased in those same author’s note for the Main Entrance. In a 2013 interview with CBR, Hill states:
“[Locke & Key: Battlegrouds] is from World War II and will explore a different set of characters, and also a couple of keys we haven’t had have a chance to get into. It will tell the last days of adults in the universe being able to see the magic from the keys, and I have a story that will sort of elegantly explain that.”
Tie that with their plans to dive into a new six-book cycle (squee!) after The Golden Age, Battlegrounds could be the last one-shot or more likely a primer for the World War Key arc. Either way, it seems the new run will be kicked off by the “unbelievable event” mentioned in the Dog Days footnote. With the TV series moving smoothly with Netflix after a few false-starts, we might have a lot of Locke & Key to look forward to in the coming years, and I am absolutely stoked!