Review – Clear #1: A Veiled Future

Comic Books DC This Week
Clear #1 cover, via Comixology.

Clear #1 – Scott Snyder, Writer; Francis Manapul, Artist

Ray – 8.5/10

Ray: While the first book of Scottober was a reunion of an all-star band, Clear #1 delves into some more unfamiliar territory for Scott Snyder. This is a partnership with Francis Manapul, the popular DC artist who often writes his own stuff. He’s known more for widescreen superhero action, which is why it was surprising that their first monthly book together was a noir-inspired mystery. But not any noir—one set thirty years in the future, with sci-fi elements that very grounded in one of the biggest fears people have—that our best days are behind us.

The world of Clear is one where the United States has clearly declined in major ways. The economy is in shambles, we’ve lost a war, and people are at each other’s throats more than ever. People would do anything to avoid that—and they do, courtesy of the Veils. That’s the technology that defines this book—helmets or ocular implants that allow people to see the world through filters. Everyone is existing in their own customized version of reality, heightening the isolation and distance that already exists in society.

Well, not everyone. The title, Clear, refers to the way Detective Sam Dunes lives his life. One of the few people who eschews a filter and sees the world as it is, he’s a former cop who can’t seem to stay out of trouble and pursues private cases involving “Black Veils”—people having secret veils so they see their spouses as someone or something else secretly. It’s a clever twist on the classic trope of the detective chasing down the cheating spouse, and it quickly leads him into yet another streetside brawl.

The only reason this story falls a little short of the spectacular launch to We Have Demons last week is that this is a genre that gets done to perfection frequently. This is a crime-noir story at its core, and you’ll recognize all the classic tropes. There’s the PI who doesn’t play by the rules, the by-the-book policeman, and of course, the women. You’ve got the femme fatale with a mysterious past, and the beautiful, tragic, and doomed woman who kicks off the story. You’ll be able to hear the voices in your head, and the familiarity is both a plus and a minus.

But ultimately, Clear #1 is only as good as its concept, and its concept is very good. In many ways, it works on a meta level—Snyder and Manapul take a familiar genre, and coat it in a filter of something new, original, and incredibly timely. It’s too early to say just how much we’ll see of the other filtered worlds and how deep our main character will descend into the world he’s tried to avoid. But this is a highly intriguing first issue that paints a disturbingly plausible picture of the future and makes me want to read more.

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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