Thursday, October 22, 2015

Clean Room #1 Review and *SPOILERS*

Don’t You Know It’s Hard to Keep the Fighting Clean?

Written By: Gail Simone
Art By: Jon Davis-Hunt, Todd Klein
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 21, 2015

*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

The esteemed team of lawyers on retainer for this website have informed me that I must make this statement: the following comic book review contains depictions of a story involving a brainwashing cult created by a pulp paperback author. It could be construed that this cult is an allusion to Scientology, but Weird Science DC Comics Blog Dot Blogspot Dot Com, hereinafter named “the website,” claims no propriety or authority over the creators or publisher of Clean Room number one (1), hereinafter named “the comic,” and disavows any culpability or being followed by creepy Scientologists thereof. Please don’t microwave our pets. Read the review—perhaps this cult is painted in a positive light!

Explain It!:

Gail Simone really excels at writing about emotionally damaged people, and making us feel for them through their dialogue. So it is with our introduction to the protagonist of this story, Chloe Pierce, who we meet in the midst of an attempted drowning suicide. She’s despondent over the recent suicide by gun of her fiancĂ©e, Philip, who got mixed up with a crazy cult called the Utopians shortly before removing the right half of his face. She is fished out of the lake before she can expire by her neighbors, and wakes up in the hospital where a well-meaning nurse hands her a copy of An Honest World by Astrid Mueller, a key tome to the Utopians and a book which makes Chloe wig out a little. It’s then that she decides she needs to uncover the mysteries of the Utopians in order to understand why her husband-to-be offed himself.

We actually meet the creator of this wackadoo cult, Astrid Mueller, in the book’s prologue before the title page. We see her many years ago in Germany, a bright-eyed, pigtailed little scamp, on her way to church. Suddenly, a livery driver slams his truck right into her body and t-bones a parked car, and then backs up over the bloodied little girl for no discernable reason. He is taken out of the car and beaten mercilessly by onlookers, while the girl is taken to the hospital, unusually kempt for someone who has been rolled around under a moving truck. It is there she begins having visions, and if you’re putting two and two together here, it’s almost certainly Astrid Mueller. We learn that Astrid was writing shlock horror novels until she wrote White Hall, Red Heart, the only book ever written without any punctuation whatsoever. After reviewing all three-hundred pages, the reader is then enlightened or insane, and it’s not clear which makes one eligible to join the Utopians. Chloe, a journalist as well as a suicidal revenge plotter, is able to gain entrance to the Utopians headquarters to speak with Astrid Mueller, after she has read White Hall, Red Heart herself. She gets the runaround, but eventually Astrid steps through some giant double wooden doors, flanked by a gang of well-dressed people just different enough that they could be a modern-day Hogan’s Heroes.

Okay, so I’ve been a little vague about this book. That’s because I think you should check it out. The art and plotting by Jon Davis-Hunt is capable enough—certainly meticulous, if nothing else—but this is a pretty creepy story that is really well-paced and contains just enough information to make you curious for more. You want to enter the Clean Room. I mean, really you probably don’t, but you should read this comic book. Gail Simone is let off the licensed property leash and it’s already pretty gripping.

Bits and Pieces:

Some horrors are easy to describe, but the kind of horror we see in Clean Room is more visceral. Though many of the characters have a pugnacious quality about them, the art is very strong and detailed and effective where it needs to be. Perhaps you were feeling like you were sleeping too well and could use a few mild nightmares? Well say no more, pick up this series and wonder about those spaced-out people pushing reflective stickers and flowers down at the airport.

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