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Locke & Key

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Locke & Key
Cover of Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft #1 (February 2008), art by Gabriel Rodriguez
Publication information
PublisherIDW Publishing
FormatsOriginal material for the series has been published as a set of limited series.
Contemporary fantasy
Publication dateWelcome to Lovecraft
February–July 2008
Head Games
January–June 2009
Crown of Shadows
November 2009 – April 2010
Keys to the Kingdom
August 2010 – March 2011
June 2011 – April 2012
November 2012 – June 2013
September–December 2013
Number of issues37 (original run)
8 (The Golden Age)
Creative team
Writer(s)Joe Hill
Artist(s)Gabriel Rodríguez
Letterer(s)Robbie Robbins
Colorist(s)Jay Fotos
Editor(s)Chris Ryall
Collected editions
Welcome to LovecraftISBN 9781600102370
Head GamesISBN 9781600104831
Crown of ShadowsISBN 9781600106958
Keys to the KingdomISBN 9781600108860
ClockworksISBN 9781613772270
Alpha & OmegaISBN 9781613778531

Locke & Key is an American comic book series written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodríguez, and published by IDW Publishing.

Plot summary[edit]

This plot is presented in chronological order. During the American Revolution, a group of Rebels, hiding beneath what will one day be Keyhouse in the town of Lovecraft, discover a portal to another dimension, the plains of Leng, filled with demons who can mesmerize anyone that sees them and possess them through touch. However, when the demons attempt to enter the real world, they are transformed into "whispering" iron which young smith Benjamin Locke forges into a variety of magical keys, including the Omega Key, which seals the entrance to the dimension. The magic of the Keyhouse gradually evolves over the years, including a spell which causes occupants to forget about the keys and the magic of the house when they pass their 18th birthday. In 1988, a group of teenagers, having used the keys extensively in their high school years to their great delight, decide to open the black door with the Omega Key, hoping to trick a demon into entering the real world in order to provide more metal with which to make more keys. Rendell Locke's younger brother follows the group and is mesmerized by the door and when attempting to walk through it, he is stopped by Dodge who accidentally puts his hand through the door, becoming possessed by a demonic being. After plotting and attempting to kill his friends and enslave the others at the behest of the Child of Leng possessing him, Dodge is killed by Rendell.

Many years later, Dodge's spirit re-enters the physical world through the well at Keyhouse, due to actions taken by Dodge prior to his death. Trapped in the well, Dodge's spirit reaches out to a young abused prodigy, Sam Lesser, and convinces him to attack the Lockes and kill Rendell, looking for the Omega Key, as well as the Anywhere Key, which is capable of freeing Dodge from the well. After the gruesome murder of their father, the Locke kids, Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode move with their mother Nina across the country to Keyhouse and begin discovering its secrets. Sam escapes prison and follows the Lockes to Massachusetts. He attacks the family again at Keyhouse, at which time Dodge tricks Bode into bringing him the Anywhere Key. Dodge escapes from the well, kills Sam and returns to Lovecraft in the same body as he had thirty years before.

Dodge re-enters high school under the guise of a new student, intimidating his way into the home of one of Kinsey's teachers and Dodge's former friends. Over the next year, Dodge secretly tries to recover the various keys – in particular the Omega Key – from the children, collecting many, though hindered by Tyler and Kinsey. Dodge is eventually discovered but manages to switch bodies and possess Bode before they can kill him. Now free to explore the house as Bode, Dodge finally finds the Omega Key and plans his takeover after-prom party in the caves. He releases several demons and many of the students are killed. Dodge is ultimately undone by Tyler, having used a sliver of whispering iron inherited from his father to forge an "Alpha Key" capable of undoing possession. Dodge's spirit is forced back into the well, though Bode's empty body is cremated before Bode's soul has a chance to return to it. In the epilogue, Tyler returns to the well to finally free Dodge's spirit from the demon. Tyler is able to speak with his father one last time, and Bode's physical form is restored.

Publication history[edit]

The narrative of Locke & Key has a three-act structure, with each act covering two story arcs. Act One's first story arc, Welcome to Lovecraft, was a six-issue limited series published by IDW Publishing. The first issue of Welcome to Lovecraft was released on February 20, 2008, and sold out in a single day, requiring a second printing to be done immediately.[1] The second arc of Act One, Head Games, commenced with the release of the first issue on January 22, 2009.[2] The actual Head Games story was printed in four issues, with a standalone prologue ("Intermission" or "The Joe Ridgeway Story") and a standalone conclusion ("Army of One").[3]

The first storyline of Locke & Key Act Two, Crown of Shadows, began in late 2009.[4] The second storyline, Keys to the Kingdom, began in August 2010.

The first storyline of Act Three was announced as Time & Tide,[5] but was retitled Clockworks.[6] The second, and concluding, storyline is entitled Alpha & Omega.

Originally, the plan was to release the first five story arcs in a monthly format with the sixth arc published as an original graphic novel. The plan changed and the concluding story arc appeared in monthly installments.[7][8][9]


In the universe of Locke & Key, there are many keys created from whispering iron that have different magical properties. Some of them are extensively featured in the series, while others are featured very briefly. The known keys are:

  • Alpha Key: Removes demons from possessed people's souls when inserted into their chests. It instantly turns a demon to whispering iron so, if the demon is still inside the host, the key's effect is fatal.
  • Angel Key: Gives the user angel-like wings that grant the ability to fly.
  • Animal Key: Used on the right door in Keyhouse, it allows the user to travel through the door and transform into an animal. It is unclear whether they have choice in the matter. It appears that the key assigns the animal, according to some spiritual affinity. Returning back through the door transforms a person back into a human. This works for human ghosts that have possessed animal bodies. Animals may also transform into humans if they enter through the opposite side of the door.
  • Anywhere Key: Opens a door to anywhere the bearer can visualize in their mind.
  • Chain Key: Controls the Great Lock, which guards the catacombs with entangling chains.
  • Creation Key: Resembling a pencil, this key causes anything drawn with it to become real, living or otherwise. These things can also be erased by touching the other end to them.
  • Demon Key: When held against the spine of a person a lock will appear. Upon being inserted, the victim becomes possessed by a demon.
  • Echo Key: Allows entry to the Keyhouse wellhouse and, with the Echo Key in hand, allows a person to return a spirit from the dead to the world of the living. Leaving through the wellhouse door, however, banishes the spirit back to wherever it came from.
  • Gender Key: Unlocks a half-sized door between rooms which changes the sex of a person who enters it.
  • Ghost Key: When used in the right door in Keyhouse, it separates the soul from the body of whoever travels through the door. The body falls dead while their ghost is free to roam the Keyhouse grounds. Ghost souls can inhabit any other bodies nearby, and clash with other ghosts.
  • Giant Key: This physically large key, once inserted into a keyhole-shaped window in Keyhouse, transforms the bearer into a massive giant.
  • Grindhouse Key: Transforms whatever door it opens into a giant mouth that consumes whatever enters it.
  • Harlequin Key: Unlocks the Harlequin Wardrobe and allows objects not normally inside to be seen.
  • Head Key: Inserted into the base of someone's head, it allows one to peer inside the mind of a person, where memories and mental concepts (including "sanity" itself) are represented as tiny beings. The memories can be removed and swapped between people. Books inserted into a head with the Head Key transfer their contents to the bearer of the key, though in such a situation the knowledge of the text is accurate but superficial.
  • Hell Key: The bearer is automatically the Lord of Hell and has absolute control over Hell.
  • Hercules Key: Embedded in a necklace, it grants the bearer considerable strength and bulk.
  • Identity Key: Upon inserting into the base of one's chin, the bearer can change any aspect of their appearance, including clothes, body, or even gender. Also allows a bearer to forcibly change the appearance of others.
  • Keyhouse Key: A large key which fits into a stone slab and regenerates the Keyhouse after it is destroyed.
  • Matchstick Key: Creates fires when inserted into a door or touched to an object, including a body.
  • Mending Key: Opens a magical cabinet in the Keyhouse into which a broken object can be placed (the cabinet can resize itself to the size of the object). Once the object is locked inside the cabinet, it is repaired. While it can heal severely wounded people, it apparently cannot resurrect the dead.
  • Mirror Key: When inserted into a mirror, allows the user to open a doorway to a parallel-pocket universe, called the Prison of the Self. This key affects a mirror's reflection if it is held toward a mirror, as it makes the reflection eerily pleasant and beckons the person to enter. The user is then enticed to come into the mirror by their reflection and upon entering, they find themselves in a dark, empty abyss.
  • Moon Key: Allows the user to reach and open the Moon like a door, which allows the user to pass on to the afterlife peacefully. Inhabitants who cross the door see the living world like a stage they can observe and the afterlife like the backstage of a theater.
  • Music Box Key: Inserted into a magical music box, it will cause the box to play a song that compels whoever is listening to obey its lyrics. Whoever turns the key can supply the commands. Commands are carried out so long as the music is playing and the listener can hear it.
  • Omega Key: Opens the lock on the demonic door. The first key created.
  • Owl Key: Gives the user control of a mechanical owl.
  • Philosophoscope Key: Gives access to a device that allows viewing of various people and places.
  • Reali Key: Allows passage to alternate dimensions.
  • Shadow Key: Allows its wearer to control shadow creatures, and even the shadows of other people. Shadows are capable of interacting with the material world (often violently) but can be rendered immaterial by bright light. Embedded in a crown, the key is a tremendous source of power for the wearer.
  • Skin Key: A key with a gazing mirror on its handle, it can change the ethnicity of whoever is using it.
  • Small World Key: Unlocks a dollhouse replica of Keyhouse, allowing the user to see anything in Keyhouse in realtime. Any interaction with the unlocked dollhouse also occurs within the actual house, such as a house spider entering the dollhouse magically emerging as a giant spider within the real house.
  • Splody Key: Causes explosions in any building it is used within.
  • Squirrel/Undertree Key: Controls squirrels.
  • Tempus Fugit Key: Can turn the bearer into an older version of themselves, possibly other ages.[10][11]
  • Timeshift Key: Operates a grandfather clock that allows a user to observe (but not interact with) past events. The clock is limited to a specific time period: the earliest date one can visit is January 13, 1775, and the latest is December 31, 1999.
  • Teddy Bear Key: Animates and controls stuffed teddy bears.
  • Thorn Key: Controls plants, including for offensive purposes. This Key was redesigned and renamed the Plant Key for the Netflix series.[10][11]
  • Unnamed Riffel Key (unofficial name):[11] A key created by Hans Riffel, the last person to use whispering iron before Tyler. The key is to the front door of Keyhouse Manor and implements the Riffel Rule, where no one who enters the front door of the house as an adult can directly see the power of the keys. People who age into adulthood will also begin to lose their conscious memories of the keys and their magic.

Story arcs[edit]

Locke & Key[edit]

Welcome to Lovecraft[edit]

Issue Release Summary
#1 February 20, 2008 After the murder of their father, Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode Locke relocate with their mother to the family estate of Keyhouse, located in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. Sam Lesser, one of the teens who murdered Mr. Locke, is in a juvenile detention center and, by gazing in water, communicates with a supernatural force that promises to free him. Bode Locke, the youngest of the family, uncovers The Ghost Door, which separates his spirit from his body.
#2 March 26, 2008 Bode continues to experiment with The Ghost Door and, in his incorporeal form, spies on his brother, sister, and mother. During his journeys, Bode discovers a well that houses a creature who appears as a girl, the supernatural force previously communicating with Sam Lesser.
#3 April 30, 2008 Sam Lesser uses the tools the girl gave him to escape from the detention center.
#4 May 28, 2008 Sam Lesser travels across America, making his way towards Keyhouse. His cross-country journey is mirrored by a series of flashbacks into his memories.
#5 June 25, 2008 The Locke family is taken hostage by Sam Lesser who is seeking the Anywhere Key for his Master, the girl in the well.
#6 July 30, 2008 Bode uncovers the Anywhere Key and trades it with the girl in the well for a promise that she'll stop Sam Lesser. Freed from her prison, she keeps her promise by throwing Sam through the Ghost Door with no chance to return.

Head Games[edit]

Issue Release Chapter Title Summary
#1 January 28, 2009 Intermission[3] Professor Joe Ridgeway recognizes Zack Wells as Lucas Caravaggio, a teenager who disappeared over twenty years before, along with several other students, and who has long been presumed dead. Joe soon sets out to dig up the truth on Wells, but Zack proves ruthless in his desire for secrecy.
#2 February 25, 2009 Chapter One A shocking death throws Kinsey and Tyler Locke into choppy emotional waters. They turn to Zack Wells for support, not knowing him to be the murderer. Meanwhile, six-year-old Bode Locke tries to puzzle out the secret of the head key, and Uncle Duncan is jarred into the past by a disturbingly familiar face.
#3 March 4, 2009 Chapter Two Kinsey, Tyler, and Bode discover the head key allows them to open up people's minds and play with their memories.
#4 April 8, 2009 Chapter Three Duncan Locke finds himself faced with a dizzying, impossible revelation; Tyler makes the ill-considered decision to share with others the unlikely powers of the head key; and Kinsey opts to remove troubling emotions from her mind.
#5 May 20, 2009 Chapter Four Dodge uses the head key on Duncan Locke, sparing his life but inadvertently leading to the injury of Locke's live-in-boyfriend.
#6 July 1, 2009 Army of One[3] We learn how Dodge maintains control of Ellie even without the use of a head key in a flashback sequence.

Crown of Shadows[edit]

Issue Release Chapter Title Summary
#1 November 11, 2009 The Haunting of Keyhouse[12] Sam Lesser may be dead and gone, but Dodge still has uses for him, and in the first chill days of October, will make contact with him again. The dead know things the living may not, and Sam's restless spirit has had time to discover the thing Dodge wants to know most of all... where to find the key to the black door.
#2 December 16, 2009 In the Cave Far below Keyhouse lies the Drowning Cave, a place where shadows obscure ancient secrets, and the stones are stained with ancient blood. Kinsey Locke descends into the cavern, looking for answers to her family's troubled past, only to discover that it's easier to get in than it is to get out...
#3 February 17, 2010 Last Light[13] Dodge takes possession of the crown of shadows, and darkness falls upon Keyhouse... with a vengeance.
#4 March 17, 2010 Shadow Play[14] Kinsey and Bode find themselves in a desperate, seemingly unwinnable battle against a rising army of living shadows, while Tyler faces down Dodge in a terrifying duel of wits and wills.
#5 April 28, 2010 Light of Day[15] The owners of the Giant Key and the Shadow Key go head to head.
#6 July 14, 2010 Beyond Repair[16] In a terrible night of grief and rage, Nina Locke discovers a new key, one which opens a cabinet capable of mending smashed objects; but some things, she will learn, are beyond repair...

Keys to the Kingdom[edit]

Issue Release Chapter Title Summary
#1 August 11, 2010 Sparrow[17] As the new arc begins, Bode Locke discovers a key that unlocks the world of tooth, fang, claw, and feather, in a story that leaves hundreds dead! Hundreds of birds, that is.
#2 October 20, 2010[18] White[19] On a bitter winter day, Kinsey Locke encounters a madwoman who just might be able to unlock the darkest secrets of Keyhouse. But forcing the truth out of her won't be easy, and besides... Dodge has no intention of ever giving Erin Voss a chance to tell what she knows.
#3 November 24, 2010 February Dodge and the Locke children do battle via their keys over 29 days. The cover image shows a February 2012 calendar page (the final 2 in 2012 is obscured by a bloody hand print, but only 2012 fits, being a leap year February beginning on a Wednesday).
#4 January 26, 2011[20] Casualties When Squadron Strange accept a mission from a ghost, they find themselves on their most perilous raid ever... straight into the heart of a haunted mansion. Sgt. Rufus Whedon and Corporal Bode Locke have a terrifying lesson to learn: if you're dealing with a dead man, you better think fast and fight hard, if you don't want to wind up one yourself.
#5 March 2, 2011[21] Detectives, Part 1 Tyler Locke begins, finally, to consider what he knows about the terrifying but mysterious enemy that has harrowed the Locke family for months—only to find that all the evidence points to a single suspect: Zack Wells.
#6 April 27, 2011 Detectives, Part 2 'Keys to the Kingdom' comes to a close as Dodge and Tyler Locke confront one another at last. Tyler came armed with the truth; Dodge prefers sharper instruments, and shows his willingness to use them.


Issue Release Chapter Title Summary
#1 July 20, 2011[22] The Locksmith's Son Colonel Adam Crais's minutemen are literally trapped between a rock and a hard place; in the first days of the Revolutionary War, they find themselves hiding beneath 120 feet of New England stone, with a full regiment of redcoats waiting for them in the daylight... and a door into hell in the cavern below.

The black door is open, and it's up to a 16-year-old smith named Ben Locke to find a way to close it. The biggest mysteries of the Locke & Key series are resolved as Clockworks opens, not with a bang, but with the thunderous crash of English cannons.

#2 August 31, 2011[23] SMASH! Terror runs wild, and the Locke family comes to grief in the smash-ingest story of the series yet!
#3 December 14, 2011[24] The Tamers of the Tempest The Omega Key to The Black Door has been found by Dodge, still in Bode’s body.
#4 February 1, 2012[25] The Whispering Iron The tamers of The Tempest—Rendell Locke, Dodge Caravaggio, and their friends—descend into the Drowning Cave to open the Black Door, hoping to get their hands on some of the fabled whispering iron, the material from which all of the keys are forged. And everything goes according to plan! Not.
#5 March 14, 2012[26] Grown-Ups Lucas "Dodge" Caravaggio returns from the Drowning Cave, infected by a parasite of the soul; the good and loving friend has been left behind, and replaced by something free of all human feeling. Searching for a way to control him, the Keepers of the Keys make a dreadful choice... and set off a chain of events that will end in an unimaginable slaughter.
#6 May 16, 2012[27] Curtain As a storm thunders up the coast to Lovecraft, Massachusetts, the Keepers of the Keys face Dodge a final time, under three hundred feet of stone, in the darkness before the Black Door. Here, water will mix with blood and The Drowning Cave will become a colossal grave, in the final issue of the CLOCKWORKS storyline.

Alpha & Omega[edit]

The final arc is titled Locke & Key: Alpha & Omega; it collects Omega #1–5 and Alpha #1–2.[28]

Issue Release Chapter Title Summary
Omega #1 November 14, 2012 Our Regrets The beginning of the end starts here. Dodge has the Omega key, and nothing can stop him from using it...
Omega #2 December 19, 2012 The Soldier A ghost haunts the long halls of Keyhouse—the spirit of Bode Locke, cast out of his body by the Demon named Dodge—and only one person can hear his voice: Bode's old playmate, Rufus Whedon.[29]
Omega #3 February 20, 2013 Last Dance As Kinsey Locke and the other students head to a dance at Lovecraft Academy, the demonic Dodge gathers shadowy forces of his own and enacts his evil endgame. The “Last Dance” begins here.[30]
Omega #4 April 3, 2013 Human Sacrifices The bottomless pit of the Drowning Cave threatens to become a mass grave, as Dodge springs a fatal trap on the senior class of Lovecraft Academy. Hope is as fragile as a candle-flame wavering in the night... and as easy to extinguish.
Omega #5 June 5, 2013 The Fall In the Drowning Cave, the black door is open at last, and for the kids trapped down there, the choice is simple: resist and die, or pass through the door and be lost forever. In the hole beneath Keyhouse the stones run with blood, the living shadows run riot, and time runs out... as Locke & Key enters its final chapters.
Alpha #1[31] September 11, 2013[32] Alpha In the penultimate 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.[33]
Alpha #2 December 18, 2013[34] The Last Door "The End." A door claps softly shut. A key scrapes in a last rusted lock. It ends here: the story of the Locke children and their desperate, tragic battle with the monster set on destroying them... the past.[35]

World War Key[edit]

At the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, Joe Hill confirmed that a new Locke & Key series called World War Key was in the works.[36] This storyline as Hill puts it is "about the idea that the past is never gone... and I think a lot of ghost stories are about ways the past keep bleeding through to the present. We'll visit the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and World War II to show how those past events have had lingering effects on our heroes today."[36] As of 2019, the series is expected to run thirty-seven issues across six books (not including The Golden Age).[37] World War Key is designed to be both a prequel and a sequel to the original run of Locke & Key.[38]

The Golden Age[edit]

A series of short stories set in the past.[39] In his newsletter, Joe Hill referred to the book as "World War Key 0: The Golden Age".[40]

Locke & Key: …In Pale Battalions Go… will be a three-issue story that leads into World War Key, set at the beginning of the 20th century and will feature characters from "Small World" and "Open the Moon".[41] It will also lead into the Locke & Key/Sandman Universe crossover comic.[40] On February 21, 2020, IDW announced via their Twitter[42] that Locke & Key would be crossing over with DC Comics's Sandman Universe. The story, Hell & Gone, will center around DC's Key to Hell from The Sandman: Season of Mists. Hell & Gone will wrap up The Golden Age arc.[43]

According to Joe Hill, ...In Pale Battalions Go... was originally supposed to be just two issues, but he quickly realized that it wasn't enough to tell the full story so it was increased to three.[44]

Issue Release Summary
Guide to the Known Keys November 23, 2011 This special standalone issue features an expanded "Guide to the Known Keys", an all-new "Guide to Failed Keys", and a story of summer night magic titled "Open the Moon", set in Keyhouse's unlikely past.
Small World December 21, 2016 An impossible birthday gift for two little girls unexpectedly throws open a door to a monster on eight legs. Joe Hill has said that the title is a shout out to the horror novel of the same name by his mother Tabitha King.[45]
...In Pale Battalions Go... #1[46] August 26, 2020[47] "The impossible, reality-bending keys of Keyhouse have always been weapons of war. In the spring of 1915, Chamberlin Locke's oldest son, John, is desperate to be a part of the greatest war of all… and never mind that he's too young to enlist. He means to use the power of the keys to turn the tide, and will tell any lie, and try any manipulation, to have his way. Prepare to open a door onto one of the grimmest battlefields of the 20th century, whose darkness might even strike fear into an army of supernatural shadows."[47]
...In Pale Battalions Go... #2 October 7, 2020[48] "The impossible, reality-bending keys of Keyhouse have always been weapons of war. In the spring of 1915, Chamberlin Locke's oldest son, John, is desperate to be a part of the greatest war of all… and never mind that he's too young to enlist. He means to use the power of the keys to turn the tide, and will tell any lie, and try any manipulation, to have his way. Prepare to open a door onto one of the grimmest battlefields of the 20th century, whose darkness might even strike fear into an army of supernatural shadows."[49]
...In Pale Battalions Go... #3 December 16, 2020[50] "Jonathan Locke uses the power of the Anywhere Key to flee the slaughter in Ypres and return to Keyhouse. But now the door is open between Flanders Fields and Lovecraft, Massachusetts… and the sinister Oberlutenant Eric Murnau has led a small band through to claim the magical keys for Germany!"[51]
Hell & Gone #0[51] December 9, 2020[51] This issue recollects "Guide to the Known Keys" and "Open the Moon" with an excerpt from Sandman #1.[52]
Hell & Gone #1 April 14, 2021[53] "If you think you can unlock the gates of Hell and just invite yourself in, you must be Dreaming!

The epic crossover between two of the most beloved fantasy universes in comics begins here. John "Jack" Locke is ten years dead, but that hasn't stopped him from posting the occasional letter home… from Hell. Now Mary Locke will do anything to save her brother's soul, including cut a deal with Roderick Burgess-the most evil man in England-to search for answers in the House of Mystery and risk the walking nightmare known as the Corinthian to find help in a disintegrating Kingdom of Dreams!"[54]

Hell & Gone #2[55] September 28, 2021[56] "To win back her brother’s soul from Hell, Mary Locke has done the unthinkable—she’s seized control of the imprisoned Dream Lord’s artifacts of power and crossed over into his place of power, the Dreaming! Unfortunately, she’s managed to find herself in the middle of a war for the future of the kingdom, led by none other than the monstrous Corinthian. And even if Mary survives her encounter, the road to Hell ends in locked gates guarded by Etrigan the Demon and the all-powerful Lucifer himself!

Of course, the Locke family has always had a knack for making keys…"[57]

Face the Music[58][59] April 26, 2022 TBD

Joe Hill has stated that the chronological order of the Golden Age chapters is as follows:[60][61]

  1. Small World
  2. Open the Moon
  3. Face the Music
  4. ...In Pale Battalions Go...#1
  5. ...In Pale Battalions Go...#2
  6. ...In Pale Battalions Go...#3
  7. Hell & Gone #1
  8. Hell & Gone #2


The first arc of World War Key. Joe Hill stated in an interview that Revolution "takes place during the Revolutionary War and it's about how the magical keys won the Revolutionary War."[62]

Issue Release Chapter Title Summary
#1 TBD[63] TBD TBD


The second arc of World War Key according to Joe Hill. He described the plot: "leaps forward to the modern-day, [where] we visit some favorite characters from the Locke & Key series, and we see how they're doing. And we all see the events of the Revolutionary War staining through into the present."[62]

Issue Release Chapter Title Summary

Standalone issues[edit]

Many fans believed that "GRINDHOUSE" and "DOG DAYS" were a part of the Golden Age arc until Joe Hill stated via Twitter that they are at the moment their own standalone stories that are not a part of any arc.[64]

Issue Release Summary
IDW: 10 Year Anniversary Comic Book January 1, 2009[65] "In the Can"

A rare Locke & Key short that was published for the first time in IDW: 10 Year Anniversary Comic Book.[66] While searching for keys near Keyhouse, Bode feels nature's call and stumbles upon a mysterious outhouse with the IDW Key.

Locke & Key:
August 29, 2012 Set in the glare of a Depression-era summer, in which three Canuck gangsters carry out a heist and hide out at the Keyhouse. The issue includes an expanded "Guide to Keyhouse" describing the mansion.
Locke & Key:
Nailed It
July 19, 2019[67] "Nailed It"

A 2019 San Diego Comic-Con exclusive featuring behind-the-scenes material.[68] "Some doors, once closed, can never be opened again. While others shouldn’t be reopened ever again…"[69]

Locke & Key:
Dog Days
November 6, 2019 "Dog Days"

Two boys of the Locke family use the Animal Key to turn their pet dog into a human boy. This story originally appeared in a 48-page special, which also recollected "Nailed It", along with behind-the-scenes material.[70]

Collected editions[edit]

Standard editions[edit]

Volume Release Title Summary ISBN
1 October 8, 2008 Locke & Key:
Welcome to Lovecraft
Collects Welcome to Lovecraft #1–6 9781600102370 (Hardcover)
9781600103841 (Paperback)
2 September 30, 2009 Locke & Key:
Head Games
Collects Head Games #1–6 9781600104831 (Hardcover)
9781600107610 (Paperback)
3 July 29, 2010 Locke & Key:
Crown of Shadows
Collects Crown of Shadows #1–6 9781600106958 (Hardcover)
9781600109539 (Paperback)
4 July 19, 2011 Locke & Key:
Keys to the Kingdom
Collects Keys to the Kingdom #1–6 9781600108860 (Hardcover)
9781613772072 (Paperback)
5 July 24, 2012 Locke & Key:
Collects Clockworks #1–6 9781613772270 (Hardcover)
9781613776995 (Paperback)
6 February 4, 2014 Locke & Key:
Alpha & Omega
Collects Alpha #1–2 and Omega #1–5 9781613778531 (Hardcover)
9781631401442 (Paperback)
January 4, 2017 Locke & Key:
Small World
Collects The Golden Age stand-alone issue Small World. 9781631408465 (Hardcover)
August 15, 2017 Locke & Key:
Heaven and Earth
Collects The Golden Age stand-alone short stories "Open the Moon", Grindhouse, and "In the Can", (a rare Locke and Key short that was published in IDW: 10 Year Anniversary Comic Book in 2009) 9781684051816 (Hardcover)
7 April 26, 2022[72] Locke & Key:
The Golden Age
Collects Small World, "Open the Moon", …In Pale Battalions Go… #1–3, "Face the Music", and Hell & Gone #1–2 9781684057856 (Hardcover)

On November 11, 2014, the first six volumes were collected as a slipcase set of paperbacks.


On July 19 of 2023, a new version of Locke and Key's first issue ‘Welcome to Lovecraft’ came out. It was a new issue created to celebrate to 15 anniversary of the comic series. This issue included an all-new ending called ‘Locke and Key: Only Bad’. In this ending, Bode reach for the sword above the mantel of key house, but instead of finding the ghost key like he does in the original version, he finds a key in the handle of the sword. He takes it out of the handle to see it and puts it back in, but he turns it. After this, he accidentally falls off the stack of books. And the sword slices him clean in half. Later, his family finds his corpse.

Master editions[edit]

Locke & Key was also collected in three hardcover books with all-new cover art and design by Gabriel Rodriguez.

  • Locke & Key Master Edition Volume 1 (May 19, 2015). Collects the first two arcs, Welcome to Lovecraft and Head Games.
  • Locke & Key Master Edition Volume 2 (March 22, 2016). Collects the third and fourth arcs, Crown of Shadows and Keys to the Kingdom.
  • Locke & Key Master Edition Volume 3 (October 18, 2016). Collects the fifth and sixth arcs, Clockworks and Alpha & Omega.

Keyhouse Compendium Edition[edit]

All six arcs (Welcome to Lovecraft, Head Games, Crown of Shadows, Keys to the Kingdom, Clockworks, and Alpha & Omega) of the main story are to be published in one compendium edition, featuring new front and back cover art by Gabriel Rodriguez. The compendium had an original release date of October 2020,[73] but it was delayed and eventually published July 20, 2021.[74]

Signed limited editions[edit]

On November 11, 2007, Subterranean Press announced a pre-order for a hand-numbered, signed, limited edition of the six-issue run of Welcome To Lovecraft. This edition consisted of 250 numbered copies and 26 lettered copies, both of which sold out within 24 hours of being announced.[75][76] This edition was a hardcover release in a specially designed and illustrated slipcase, and featured exclusive dust jacket art by Vincent Chong and reprinted all 250 pages of Joe Hill's script in addition to the actual comic work.[77]

This was followed by the publication of Head Games, which was also limited to 250 hand-numbered and signed copies as well as 26 lettered copies.[78] The third volume, Crown of Shadows, is available for preorder, and like the previous editions is signed and numbered with the same limitations and also comes with an illustrated slipcase.[79] Cloth-bound trade editions limited to 1000 copies (unsigned, unnumbered, and without the slipcase) were also released. Trade editions for the first two volumes are sold out.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Comic Book/Graphic Novel

Year Award Category Notes Result Ref.
2009 Eisner Award Best Limited Series Nominated [36]
Best Writer Joe Hill Nominated
2010 British Fantasy Award Best Comic or Graphic Novel Nominated [80]
2011 Eisner Award Best Writer Joe Hill Won [81]
Best Single Issue Locke & Key: Keys to the Kingdom #1: "Sparrow" Nominated [82]
Best Continuing Series Nominated
Best Penciller Gabriel Rodriguez Nominated
Scream Awards Best Comic Book or Graphic Novel Nominated [83]
Best Comic Book Writer Joe Hill ("The Cape" also credited) Nominated [84]
2012 British Fantasy Award Best Graphic Novel Locke & Key: Keys to the Kingdom Won [80]
Bram Stoker Award Best Graphic Novel Nominated
Hugo Award Best Graphic Story Nominated
2013 Hugo Award Best Graphic Story Locke & Key: Clockworks Nominated
2015 Bram Stoker Award Best Graphic Novel Locke & Key: Alpha and Omega Nominated
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Best Adult Literature Nominated [85][86]
2016 Ghastly Award Best One-Shot Comic Locke & Key: Golden Age #1: "Small World" Won [87]
Audie Award Excellence in Marketing Locke & Key Audio Book. Narrated by Haley Joel Osment, Tatiana Maslany, Kate Mulgrew, and a full cast (Audible Studios). Won [88]
2022 Eisner Award Best Graphic Album - Reprint Locke & Key Keyhouse Compendium Edition Volume Pending [89]

Netflix Adaptation

Awards and Nominations received by the Netflix series



A film trilogy was officially announced at the 2014 Comic Con. Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Bobby Cohen and Ted Adams would produce the film with Universal Pictures and Kurtzman and Orci's production company K/O Paper Products.[90]

In October 2015, Joe Hill confirmed that the films are no longer happening, though a TV series was still possible.[91] In May 2016, Joe Hill announced he would write a TV pilot, serve as executive producer and pitch the show to various networks and streaming companies.[92]


Fox pilot (2010–2011)[edit]

Dimension Films acquired the film and television rights for Welcome to Lovecraft from IDW Publishing with the intent of developing the property as a feature with John Davis producing.[93] In February 2010, it was announced that Dimension had lost the adaptation rights to Dreamworks[94] with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci signed on to develop and produce the project.[95] In August 2010 Steven Spielberg also joined as a producer, and the production became a TV series rather than a movie adaptation, with Josh Friedman writing episodes for the show and acting as show-runner.[96]

The TV series adaptation then landed at 20th Century Fox Television. The network greenlit a pilot, produced by Dreamworks TV and K/O Paper Products through the latter's deal with 20th Century Fox TV.[97]

Miranda Otto played Nina Locke, Sarah Bolger was Kinsey Locke[98][99] and Nick Stahl co-starred as Duncan Locke.[100] Skylar Gaertner played 6-year old Bode, and Harrison Thomas played a teenager possessed by an evil spirit.[101] Actor and singer Jesse McCartney appeared as Ty Locke, the series' male lead[102] and Ksenia Solo was cast as Dodge.[103]

Mark Romanek directed the pilot episode,[104] which was filmed at the mansion in Hartwood Acres and in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, in February 2011. The pilot was also shot throughout Pittsburgh that same month.[105] In May 2011, Fox announced that the project would not be picked up to the series.[106] The studio attempted to sell the project to other networks but eventually ceased efforts due to rising costs. The pilot was screened at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International, where it was well received.[107]

Hulu pilot (2017–2018)[edit]

On April 20, 2017, Hulu ordered a pilot based on the comic with Carlton Cuse, Scott Derrickson, and Lindsey Springer as producers.[108] In July 2017, Derrickson was replaced by Andy Muschietti as the pilot's director.[109] In August 2017, Frances O'Connor was cast as Nina in the show.[110] In a March 2018 interview, Samantha Mathis revealed that Hulu had passed on the show, and it was now being shopped around to other networks.[111]

Netflix series (2020–2022)[edit]

On May 30, 2018, after Hulu had passed on Locke & Key, it was announced that Netflix was nearing a series order for a re-developed version of the show with Cuse and Hill involved once again, and Muschietti as executive producer. The show found a new director for the pilot and an entirely new cast with the exception of Jackson Robert Scott as Bode Locke, who was cast in the Hulu pilot as well.[112]

Season one of the show, with 10 episodes, debuted on Netflix on February 7, 2020. Season two of the show, with 10 episodes, debuted on Netflix on October 22, 2021. The third and final season of the show, with 8 episodes, debuted on Netflix on August 10, 2022.

Audio drama[edit]

All six books of Locke & Key were adapted as a 13-hour audio drama released on 5 October 2015. Produced by the AudioComics Company for Audible Studios and directed by William Dufris, the work features voice actors including Tatiana Maslany, Haley Joel Osment, Kate Mulgrew, and Brennan Lee Mulligan, with appearances by series creators Rodríguez and Hill, as well as Hill's father Stephen King, in addition to almost 50 voice-over actors[113] and an original score by Peter Van Riet. The work received critical praise, and in 2016 was nominated for four Audie Awards from the Audiobook Publisher's Association of America, including "Best Original Work" and "Excellence in Production."

Card game[edit]

In 2012, Cryptozoic Entertainment released a card game based on the series.[114]

See also[edit]

  • The Lost Room – Prior work from 2006 with a very similar main concept to Locke & Key, a set of magical objects with different properties including a key that opens any door to anywhere.


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External links[edit]