Clear #4 is tense, tragic and thrilling. Sam Dunes is met with danger at every corner and with Sam on the run and the full force of the police he’s quickly running out of options and friends.
Things go south pretty quickly for our boy Sam in Clear #4 from Scott Snyder and Francis Manapul. As maybe you’d expect when you have a doppelgänger running wild and seemingly committing crime in your name. Including the murder of Sam’s one-time army colleague and friend, Detective Ben Collins. Although, haven’t we have already seen this kind of tech before, in Clear #2, when George Washington hacked down Director Union? Surely the same killer? But we’re still no closer to his/her identity. Other than whoever it is, they are clearly well placed and privileged.
Given we are the unfolding narrative from Sam Dunes’ perspective, we are as equally combobulated as Sam, and it works really well throughout this issue as a great structural device to surprise the reader and keep the tension high, as Sam begins to piece together the clues and start finding some answers, rotten though they may be. Hey, this is a sci-fi story, but it’s also a crime-noir story, and they often come laden with tragedy and sting to the tale.
Synder meticulously and skilfully layers this story with plenty of complexity when it comes to the intended effect on the reader. There’s the frustrating mystery of the killer’s identity, but there’s also the planting doubt in the reader’s mind. Who was Kendra, really? And how does their shared tragedy – only revealed last issue – play into the bigger picture?
Francis Manapul continues to find the right colour scheme for every occasion and seems to lay on the shadows more thickly than usual to better help convey the darkening and claustrophobic mood as Dunes runs out of road and seemingly out of options. He showed he could do crime-noir when he worked Detective Comics, and here he shows he can ramp up the Neo-noir elements while still conveying the much darker side of this gripping series.
It may well be a series entitled ‘Clear’, but Sam is far from seeing any clarity. Just a muddy, bloody mess. And enjoyably frustrating comic book with lots of action, pace and panache.
Clear #4 is out now on comiXology Originals