Clean Room #9

by H├ęctor A on June 16, 2016

Writer: Gail Simone
Art: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colorist: Quinton Winter
Letterer: Todd Klein
Published by: Vertigo

**There's spoilers in this review.**

As we read more books and watch more films, we become more aware of the elements that constitute a story and our capacity to be awed by fiction is lessened. That's not to say we enjoy books or movies or TV less but a ghost story might hold less sway over you than it did when you were 8, simply because you're familiar with a few ghost stories. But more importantly, you're aware of the moving parts of a story, you know who are the characters because of cues in the story and you can probably tell where the author's going because you know about three-part structures. So it is exceedingly rare to be really thrown for a loop by a book or a movie or a TV show and that is what has really made Clean Room so special to me. I'm not even sure how to talk about it, so bear with me if I say things like “demon people” or “sort of possessed”.

 

Granted I started reading this knowing no information about the story, other than having loved Gail Simone's Secret Six if that even counts. It's actually really hard to be introduced to a universe where the things that happen in Clean Room happen without having your hand held but it's a testament to Simone's writing and the art by Jon Davis-Hunt that every issue stands on its own without having to give everything up through exposition. Instead, in this issue the cold open gives us the tiniest amount of information of what might be coming on future issues and we learn more about the demons (entities?) that hunt people through the conflict between Chloe and Killian.

 

Aside from the opening, there's two scenes that take place outside of the Clean Room but it's hard to interpret them. We see a flashback in which Astrid and her rooks drive up to the middle desert and she walks toward what seems to be the crash site the Surgeon refers to in issue #7, we don't get to see what happens but we see her retrieves the orb that is central to the Clean Room. We also get to see Astrid's shooter from the previous issue be interrogated, and he claims to be Astrid's brother. We know Astrid's father was to some degree possessed or burdened by the demon people, so his claim that she killed her father is really interesting.

 

Davis-Hunt's designs have been constantly great throughout the series. The drawing of the crash site is stunning and the detail on the Permaseek jackets hints that there's probably something freaky up with them. And while this issue doesn't have art as explicit as the ones before, he can still draw tension from Peter Muller's weird man-rage.

 

It's telling that what's the closest thing to an audience surrogate in this series is constantly being blindsided, we've learned about the Clean Room and the demon people through Chloe but every time she seems to have a grasp on what this all means, something changes. The constant pull between the advancing story and the pacing any serialized narrative needs is really expertly handled by Simone. She is also great at wringing emotion from really unexpected places. After Spark's intentions are explained as being innocent, we see him sacrifice himself to save Astrid and Spark's face-turn makes his demise (?) really touching.

 

While the cold open hints at an upcoming conflict with a fictional church (Permaseek) inspired by American evangelists, the crux of the issue is still the relationship Astrid has with the demon people. Even as Spark saves her, she gives the order to electrocute him. We're getting to explore more of that relationship, and what Chloe's significance is to Astrid. Introducing Permaseek at this point is a really interesting choice. Since the issue explains some of the stuff that happened before, Permaseek can keep us guessing about what's to come.

 

This is yet another outstanding issue. I understand how a series like this can be divisive but it's really been flawless so far. First trade came out on Wednesday, go pick that up if you haven't read this.

Our Score:

10/10

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