REVIEW: ‘CLEAR,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Clear #1 - But Why Tho

I’m a sucker for dystopian futures and Scott Snyder is masterful at delivering them. CLEAR is a new ComiXology Original series that blends science fiction and mystery with a cyberpunk twist. CLEAR #1 is written by Snyder and features art from Detective Comics artist Francis Manapul (and colors), and lettering is provided by Andworld Design.

Leaning hard into well, hard-boiled, and imbuing it with just the right amount of cyberpunk; the focus of the series? Well, the internet has had an evolution of sorts, moving from fiber lines to a neurological connection that transforms reality. Known as a veil, anyone can make the world what they want, painting the brown vision onto the world in front of them. Put everyone in tracksuits, make everyone zombies, or fill your walk with knights on horseback, the world is literally what you make it.

Snyder paints a grim opening tinged with humor while Manapul’s stunning art stands in a contrasted beauty with rich and vibrant colors. What the reader doesn’t know yet is that those cutouts of fantasy laid next to a woman plunging into the ocean? That was a veil. After taking time to introduce readers to the dystopian world that now exists, we’re introduced to the voice that has been laying it all out: Detective Sam Dunes.

Dunes’ job is to track down the Black Veils, illegal veils that hide what the viewer sees. The bulk of this issue is a set-up. It’s about laying the foundation for Dunes as a character and the world as a whole. While there is a major plot point revealed at the issues’ end, the rest of CLEAR #1 serves to lower you slowly into what the world is and also into the genre you’re going to be experiencing. Sure, this is a sci-fi story, but it’s more importantly a noir one.

In fact, Snyder’s writing style fits perfectly with the detective noir narration that continues through CLEAR #1. I can hear a jazzy beat in the cadence of the words and the way the narration frames scenes, events, and the emotion you should feel while reading showcases an understanding of what hard-boiled means when done right.

As a character, so far Dunes is the quintessential hard-boiled detective. He wants to see the world clearly while others don’t. He has a love interest he’s lost and holding onto.  Manapul’s art accentuates each scene with colors deftly chosen to showcase different scenes. The blues and greens cut with vibrant pinks while on the street, a deep green morgue, and a warm orange to denote the safety of an office. To put it simply, Manapul understands the assignment. Additionally, the beauty of the art is showcased in Andworld Design’s subtle lettering that allows the panel’s hero to be Manapul’s art in every single scene.

The only issue with CLEAR #1 is that all the things that make it interesting occur too much and take time to develop for people who may not be familiar with this certain type of hard-boiled storytelling. And while I’m sure that works for those not accustomed to gritty obsessive detectives, for those of us with a love of the hard-boiled, the pacing is at a snails-pace.

That said, CLEAR #1 is a gorgeous comic and Detective Sam Dunes is a swoon-worthy man with a past that I want to know more about. Snyder’s writing feels like a movie and Manapul’s art perfectly matches. While this may have been a slow one to start if the ending splash page with Dunes eye reflected in a watch seems like a promise that things are about to pick up fast.

CLEAR #1 is available now via Kindle Unlimited and will be physically published by Dark Horse Comics.

CLEAR #1
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TL;DR

That said, CLEAR #1 is a gorgeous comic and Detective Sam Dunes is a swoon-worthy man with a past that I want to know more about. Snyder’s writing feels like a movie and Manapul’s art perfectly matches. While this may have been a slow one to start if the ending splash page with Dunes eye reflected in a watch seems like a promise that things are about to pick up fast.