Thursday, October 18, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Clean Room #2 Review (2015)

It’s a Nice Day For a White Monkey

Written By: Gail Simone
Art By: Jon Davis-Hunt, Todd Klein
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 18, 2015

*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

I hope everyone that read Clean Room #1 and expected a fictional exposé of a sinister cult is feeling apologetic, as it was conclusively shown that Astrid Mueller’s pyschic lifestyle club that is totally not anything like Scientology was completely above board and beneficial for everyone except for Chloe Pierce’s fiancée Phillip who blew half his face off. Also people in Astrid’s inner circle seem to have giant foul-mouthed monsters surrounding them that only Chloe can see. And Chloe may or may not have been driven insane from reading a novel without punctuation. Okay, so things were left a little weird with the first issue, but now is the chance to make things right and sensible so we can feel safe and secure in our work-a-day worlds! It isn’t fair to have a comic book world so strange and then I still have to pay three-fifty for coffee. Keep reading to enter the unknown world of Clean Room together.

Explain It!:

First thing we learn is that Michael Parks, a homeless junkie who had been friends with Chloe’s fiancée Phillip, is dead and his corpse is twisted into a tight, clustered knot which proves the killer was never a Boy Scout. Two cops, a Lieutenant and a Detective Demakos remark on Michael’s brand-new socks, which we know were given to him by Chloe in exchange for information on Astrid Mueller. They also note that the room in which Michael’s body is found, inside a junkie’s shooting gallery and…whatever the equivalent is for meth addicts, has no evidence at all—not even of other people who would have inhabited and passed through the room on their way to using the “dope” and getting “zooted,” as I understand the current slang dictates. Cut to Astrid Mueller facing off with Chloe Franklin in Astrid’s Chicago mansion; Astrid has agreed to an interview with Chloe just to have her assistant tell her that she couldn’t do an interview with Chloe. Chloe spouts out some cryptic mumbo jumbo that gives Astrid pause. She then agrees to an interview, which amounts to her getting Chloe to reveal a lot of her anxieties and frustrations since her fiancée committed suicide. Astrid is all TMI and Chloe is all OMG and then Chloe sees another smut-talking demon monster draped around Astrid Mueller. She then agrees to take Chloe to the legendary Clean Room because that’s where she left her rock candy.

To get into the Clean Room, Chloe must undergo a rigorous decontamination process that involves removing all of her jewelry and making her scrub with bar soap. Then she and Astrid suit up in dorky jumpsuits and enter the Clean Room, a mostly spherical perfectly white room that seems strangely modular. In the Clean Room is also Dwight Fennister, presumably a member of Astrid Mueller’s weird cult. He’s there because he can’t sleep, so Astrid harasses him until he breaks down and admits that he can’t sleep because he’s afraid of the murderous white monkeys under his bed. Then the room shifts to a graveyard scene where Astrid continues prodding Dwight until he confesses to being a sadistic child-killer! Then Astrid pronounces him “clean” and sends him on his way, primed for a good night’s sleep by the purging bitchiness of Astrid Mueller. This doesn’t sit well with Chloe, who storms out of the Clean Room and vows to destroy Astrid’s sick clique of demonically-possessed psychos or at least get the demons to tone down their misogyny.

Gail Simone really deepens the mystery in all the right places for this issue of Clean Room, aided by the nice pacing and capable rendering of John Davis-Hunt. Some storytelling tricks are misused, I think, but overall the timing is good. We get so much new information and, in a sense, have already learned what Chloe was seeking in the second issue—but that has just opened more tantalizing and seductive questions. Is it me, or is it the potty-mouthed dragon monster on my shoulder that says this book is awesome and you should be reading it?

Bits and Pieces:

The mystery deepens and even gets a little grosser as we learn about the Clean Room and of what it is capable. The artwork is very solid and storytelling straightforward, for the most part, and the dialogue is great even when it’s about icky things. How do you think Gail Simone got so good at writing dialogue when she doesn’t even watch television? Do you think it’s the real life people she talks to? Seems to contradict everything I know about comic creators!


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