Thursday, December 17, 2015
Clean Room #3 Review and *SPOILERS*
Written By: Gail Simone
Art By: Jon Davis-Hunt, Todd Klein
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: December 16, 2015
I Only Have Eyes For You
*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*
Aversion therapy is a commonly practiced technique wherein the patient is exposed to the things they fear until their anxiety has passed, e.g. someone afraid of fire will be made to sit near open flame until they can bear it. The process can be fast or it can take several escalating sessions, but the lesson is that our fears, once faced, are baseless. But that isn’t quite true, is it? Fire does burn, doesn’t it? Perhaps there are things that we fear which should not be examined too closely or for too long, lest that understanding deepens our horror. Because as we’re going to learn in Clean Room #3, sometimes when you go to those darkened corners of your mind, creepy things can come back with you. Let’s expose our nightmares together, shall we? Read on!
Astrid Mueller’s Clean Room, the multi-sensory chamber she uses to divest people of their obsessive compulsive disorders, is open for business, and Ms. Mueller herself is attending to subject Joe Wei. His problem is that he will only take seventy-one steps per day—after that, he won’t let his feet touch the ground—because he believes that angels reside in the ground beneath us and scream as we step upon their faces. Or something like that. Point is, this guy has troubles that caused his marriage to end. You might think the wife lacked understanding, until you realize that her husband pretty much walked to the corner and back and then had to spend every day sitting with his feet hovering off the ground, or lying down. Which, come to think of it, is more or less how I live my life.
While this is happening, we see some guy that looks like a Dominos Pizza delivery guy breaking into muckraking, vengeful reporter Chloe Pierce’s house by busting the front door into smithereens. Chloe Pierce…why is that name familiar? Oh yeah, she was the protagonist in the last two issues of Clean Room, though now she seems sort of deflated by her recent experience with Astrid. We see her getting some gas and going to pee in a gas station bathroom, which is one of the worst gas station bathrooms I have seen in my life, and I’m a guy. To make matters worse, Chloe sits completely flush on the toilet seat, she doesn’t even hover. Blecch. I heard this book was going to be unsettling but I didn’t know it would be targeting my stomach. While she’s making tinkles, a spooky voice from the stall next to hers calls out for help and an eerie pink glow begins to emanate from within. The voice says that its hands are not where they’re supposed to be, which is the weirdest pick-up line I’ve heard in a long time. I almost forgot to mention that back at Chloe’s house the weird Dominos delivery guy that we can only see from behind is listening to her voicemails and skulking around her house, when the three Haverlin brothers—the burly, red-haired trio that saved Chloe from drowning herself in the first issue—are there in the kitchen, one of them aiming a shotgun at the delivery guy. Who reacts by saying “booop” in a weird, yellow font.
So Astrid Mueller is really grilling Joe Wei about his beliefs concerning the ground consisting of angels’ faces, and he tentatively tells her that Heaven is down and Hell is up. Incensed for some reason, Astrid asks Joe how he knows this, and threatens to expose the whereabouts of his wife, which freaks him out something fierce. So the Clean Room turns into a river in Oregon where Joe liked to go fly fishing. His wife, he explains, is back at the hotel reading because she doesn’t like the swarming bugs. Joe likes the bugs, though, seems they had some kind of partnership that turned sour, which frankly should have been no surprise. Bugs are nothing if not ruthlessly efficient at business. Back at Chloe Pierce’s apartment the weird Dominos delivery guy turns around to reveal he’s some kind of weird goblin with razor-sharp teeth? He beats up the Haverlin brothers—and may kill one or two of them, it’s unclear. He walks away saying “booop” which I suppose is as sensible a thing someone could be expected to say in this situation. Back at the gas station, the attendant pulls Chloe out of the stinking bathroom before she can open the stall with the creepy light and voice coming from it. He’s pissed off that her credit card was declined for belonging to a dead person, and immediately suggest she jerk him off to settle the bill. Can you do that? I mean, what’s the exchange rate? Before they can settle up, Astrid Mueller’s right-hand enforcer Killian Reed shows up and damn near twists this guy’s arm clean off his body. I mean, it is pretty gross and graphic and awesome, so you should definitely check it out. I thought about posting it here, but it’s really too good to just dump into the world, go give it a look, at least flip through it at your local comic shop. Funniest part is, before taking off, Killian threatens the attendant to wait five minutes before getting help as he writhes in pain on the ground. Lady, if this guy can form a coherent sentence in five minutes, then he’s got to be on PCP.
We wrap it up with Joe Mei, who is now reminiscing about the time he and his wife were abducted by aliens or bugs or alien bugs, and they sliced her abdomen open with a lazer and yanked some sort of purple organ out of her. Just then, whatever it was Astrid hoped to accomplish by torturing this poor asshole begins to manifest, and she says she wants to see its master while Joe Mei agonizes on a medical table. Cut to a diner where Killian is awkwardly trying to seduce Chloe when a report comes on the radio that Astrid Mueller adherent and totally not Tom Cruise analog Rand Tanner has committed suicide, so Killian takes off to presumably do some damage control. She calls the home office and insists they pull her out of her Clean Room session—a big no-no, as you might imagine—and upon doing so we find that Joe Mei has been possessed by the spirit of the guy who tried to run her over as a child, and besides that he’s also pulled his eyes out of his head as a neat party trick!
This is a weird freaking book, people, if you haven’t noticed. There’s something about it that seems overly complex, even though there were but three stories happening simultaneously. But each vignette had so much oddball shit in it that they felt like fully-realized stories of their own. Reading this book can be a little exhausting, but it’s a kind of exhausted where you’ve got genuine goosebumps and an uneasy feeling that maybe the visible world isn’t the one we need to be fearful of. I’ve grown to really like the artwork and Jon Davis-Hunt’s unique, fleshy style, and there are some great scenes. Like the one where that one guy gets his arm twisted two ways. Yikes. Seriously, go check that one out unless you’re some dumb little scaredy-pants kid or something.
Bits and Pieces:
Things get no more normal and a lot more spooky in the third issue of Clean Room. The story felt, at times, a bit burdensome, but the cuts happened at the right times to keep me wanting to find out more. Jon Davis-Hunt seems to be in a good groove here, and renders some noteworthy panels that you’re gonna have to look at the comic book to see. Having enjoyed the series thus far, this installment served only to whet my appetite for more, but if you were to hop on to the series with this particular issue I’d expect you’d be fairly well lost. And grossed out. But in a good way.