Clear has been one of the most inventive and fresh sci-fi stories in some time and it’s back with a third issue today. Mixing noir with a believable technology that taps into humanity’s need to escape reality and a mystery worth exploring, Scott Snyder and Francis Manapul further probe the various angles of the series mystery. But how far will Sam Dunes go before he’s learned too much? Based on the cliffhanger of Clear #3, likely too far.
Clear #3 takes a step back to better times for Sam when he was married, hopeful, and even a father. These opening scenes reveal a lot about the man and why he’s so reserved and alone. He had it all, but technology got in the way of that. We also learn a bit more about veils and their history, further cementing the very scary idea that humanity would fall head over heels for a tech that allows us to reskin the world around us. By the end of the opening scene, however, Manapul and Snyder will make you see technology isn’t perfect and that can cost lives.
This issue is very revealing, and possibly a bit too heavy on exposition, but it gets a lot done quickly. Not only do we get more info on Sam’s past, but we learn about his now dead ex who is somehow a big part of the mystery in the narrative. There’s enough detail sprinkled in conversations Sam has with men trying to kill him and a woman who set him on this course to begin to understand what was going on.
A standout aspect of Clear is how well it captures a future that is believable but also filled with fantastical elements that push your imagination. The idea of the veil was already amazing, but it is taken a step further that could mean not just one person, but many could have their realities altered.
The art is also stellar and works from the get-go. Manapul colors the issue to perfection, leaning into the yellow ambient lighting in the opening scene as if to convey these people can’t escape falsehoods and technology. Using a veil changes how you see the world and there’s a moment where Sam can’t see that puts you perfectly from his perspective. There are also great little details that remind us this is the future, like robots tending Sam’s wedding or a subtle glowing building in the distance during the motorcycle chase to remind us there is no escaping this city and its technology.
Aside from Sam realizing there’s a clue in something that most obviously hid one since the last page of the first issue, there’s also the trope of Sam facing his foil. I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers, but Manapul draws a hell of a good motorcycle chase to end the book that puts Sam in a very tight bind. He ends this issue similar to the last and he seemingly has nowhere to run.
Clear continues to be an exciting mix of mystery, strong character work, and future tech that is clever, believable, and on a certain level, downright frightening. Its blend of noir detective work and science fiction is so addictive it’s a story that feels like it could sustain an entire universe.
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