The sci-fi noir Clear #5 has reached the penultimate issue of the series this week. Scott Snyder and Francis Manapul’s trippy look at a future where humanity chooses what they want to see has managed to introduce a new sci-fi concept while playing with the very real nature of humanity putting its head in the sand. Can Sam make sense of what his now-dead lover was trying to do, and how much more trippy can this book get? Will he like what he discovers?
Opening where we left off, Sam is sinking to the bottom of the ocean after leaping off a bridge. Assailants above want him dead, but soon after a few altercations with trippy things that may or may not be real, he encounters a new figure. This series has been good at delivering satisfying new twists and context around Veils and this issue is no different. Sam somehow running into a new figure aside, it’s interesting to see key figures who use Veils in different ways rear their head.
The idea of Veils would likely be a huge hit in our modern-day, but what is the cost of hiding what is around you with whatever imaginary visage you choose? That’s a concept you’ll be pondering while reading this issue.
The way Veils work has been masterfully depicted by Manapul throughout the run of the series and there are new ways it’s unveiled in this issue. Seeing how a Veil could affect enemies chasing the heroes, for instance, or a trippy three-panel progression that shows the world-changing from sci-fi steps to a grassy field is done well. Pair that with a rather cool new look for Sam wearing a red sash by the end you have an issue with a lot of visual delights.
There are some heavy noir influences in this issue, too. The ending, for instance, features Sam in a new look that’s straight out of the black and white era. There’s a nihilistic look at something that has been hidden from a society that follows noir themes. Whether the story continues its nihilism in the finale remains to be seen, but one can also see the narrative turning towards a more hopeful ending. In a world where everyone is blind, somewhat by choice, but mostly because those with power deem it so, how can the world turn things around? Given the state of the world today, it’s hard to believe a happy ending is coming.
That noir influence can be seen in the use of captions, which can tend to run a little long. Here, they’re reduced to an ending conversation, although the new character entering this issue does do a lot of explaining. She tells a story about a black widow spider that helps articulate the idea of whether humans could comprehend what is going on.
Clear #5 reaches its penultimate issue with excellent new ways of expanding its sci-fi world and the ingenious concept of skinning it with Veils. The series continues to be great sci-fi with smart ideas wrapped up in a mystery that has a deeper meaning I think we all can relate to. Now the question remains, is the truth something people will want to see, or will we choose to live our small lives hoping for no change at all?
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