No one tells a story like Scott Snyder.
I stopped reading Batman about a year ago. I could say I did it because of money. Lord knows when you drop most Batman titles from your pull list you’re going to save some serious coin each week. I could say that it was because the stories were too repetitive and boring, with Tom King’s tale finally driving home the ceaseless resetting Batman stories require. I could say that I just plain didn’t care about the stories anymore.
But in my heart, it was because Scott Snyder wasn’t writing it anymore.
I know that many of his stories were divisive, and there are a lot of people on both sides of the aisle that have very entrenched views about what worked and what didn’t work in his Batman tales, but to me, Snyder’s Batman stories had a air about them that no other author has managed to capture.
I’m not sure how to put it in any other way than to say that when Snyder wrote Batman I genuinely felt like characters were going to die, even thought I know DC would never let that actually happen. Snyder could draw me into to a Batman tale and make me believe the stakes were real.
After that, well, it’s hard to care as much.
Snyder has gone on to create some pretty fantastic stories post Batman, including the continuing epic of Undiscovered Country with Charles Soule, and what I consider to be one of the best apocalyptic comics ever made, Nocterra with Tony S. Daniels and Tomeu Morey. Each of these works show what Snyder can create when given free reign to create, and if you have not checked them out you absolutely should.
But were not here to talk about those works ( You can read my review of Undiscovered Country here and why I was hyped for Nocterra here), we’re here to talk about Snyder’s latest work Clear from Dark Horse Comics and illustrated by master artist Francis Manapul of Justice League and Flash fame.
So let’s dive into this review proper, and see what Snyder has to offer for us this time around!
Here’s the blurb:
In the not-too-distant future, mankind no longer sees the world as it truly is. The invention of neurological filters has made it so one can view reality however they may choose—Old Hollywood monochrome, zombie apocalypse, anime… the possibilities are endless.
Neo-shamus Sam Dunes is one of only a handful who choose to live without a filter. When the death of an old flame reveals foul play, Dunes is set on a wild and twisting mystery that will take him from the city’s deadly underworld to the even deadlier heights of wealth and power.
There is a lot to love in the first issue of Clear. We’re in the near future, not quite apocalyptical but definitely something Blade Runner-esque. America has fallen from it’s place as a once undisputed global power, and post that fall most citizens have turned inwards to hard-core techno navel gazing.
But while that kind of inward looking might have been helpful at other times and with other resources, for most American’s that level of inward reflection has led them to see the world in which they live as hollow and meaningless. Instead of trying to fix the world, they not hide from it with shade, optical filters that digitally project the world not as it is, but as people want it to be.
You can tell Snyder is full on in his element here, especially if you read Undiscovered Country. He loves holding a cracked mirror up to American society and having fun with the distorted reflections they cast. In a day and age where less and less of what we see online is reality, where more and more digital veils are being pulled over our heads to show a world too good to be true, this step of inserting the shade directly into our brains makes sense, and the possibilities this opens up for both Snyder as a story teller and Manapul as an artist are limitless.
Francis Manapul is clearly having a blast with this book. In a world where people can see anything they want, he’s free to draw whatever visions spring into his head. Because of this, each page can swing wildly from style to style, while still maintaining the cohesive unity of a well told story. I’m very excited to see where he goes with this freedom, and if this first issue is any indication, there is a lot of amazing stuff still to be seen.
The core of Clear is a gritty, hard boiled detective noir story. A dead woman, a murder mystery, a mysterious woman that intrigues our hero who may or may not be tied up in all of it, all blended together with a constantly shifting visual world where you can trust nothing you see, it’s a perfect set-up for fresh and exciting storytelling, and I can’t wait to see where this team goes from here.
So ask your LCS to pull Clear #1 for you, and check it out for yourself. And also maybe grab some of those other books by Scott Snyder I mentioned and get lost in the worlds of one of the best comic authors out there today.
Until next time, Stay Safe.