"Clean Room #13" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Vertigo
Written by Gail Simone
Illustrated by Walter Geovani
Colored by Quinton Winter
2016, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on November 9th, 2016
The last story arc for Clean Room ended in some turmoil. People died. Others came close to it. Mistakes were made. After a brief hiatus, Astrid Mueller has returned to the Honest World Foundation headquarters to right wrongs and clean up the mess made in her absence. She's changed a bit since she last stepped foot in these halls. Having a near death experience can do that to a person.
Clean Room has a dynamite story that pulls you in right away. What really stands out in every single issue is the characterization. Writer Gail Simone has created some incredibly interesting and unique characters, each with their own original voice. Every one of them adds something special to the book, giving it a different level of intensity. We don't know a whole lot about some of them, but that doesn't even matter, as we're so heavily wrapped up in their lives.
This issue shows a very different side to Astrid. She's more than the cold, manipulating woman that we've seen in previous issues. There's compassion and sympathy in her now. Part of this can certainly be attributed to how she almost died, but she also recently found out she's an aunt. Her niece is...peculiar.
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This little girl is the subject of the most chilling panel in the entire issue – and certainly for the week. It's not when you see her true face, which is horrifying in its own right. Artist Walter Geovani matched the intense and gruesome qualities of these monsters from previous artist Jon Davis-Hunt's work, albeit with a little less detail. It's the look of menace and pure evil that comes forward on the next page. It's very similar to Chucky in this regard. The facial features remind me a lot of that famed slasher. She delivers a single line in this panel that cuts like a knife. If nothing else, Clean Room will make you afraid of infants. You will never look at a baby the same way again.
Geovani's style is similar enough to Davis-Hunt's in that it's not a glaring change from issue-to-issue. This is a new story arc as well, so it's the perfect time to swap. He really nails the facial expressions, especially those of Astrid...or rather, her non-expression.
Quinton Winter's colors continue to impress, especially within the clean room itself. He gives everything a very bright quality, like you'd have to squint your eyes if you were in the room. Bacteria would flee the very idea of the clean room. There is not a speck of dust anywhere in it. This makes the appearance of blood pop off the page in a big way.
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There's a fair amount of humor mixed in with the terror this time around. Much of this comes from Chloe's wacky neighbors. These three brothers are charming in their simplicity and silly jokes. They're a welcome addition to the series and don't feel shoe-horned in or anything. They've become a part of the tapestry along with everyone else. See my aforementioned comments about characterization. Simone delivers on every single line in this book.
Clean Room kicks off a new arc in style, working with the new status quo, moving the characters into position to explore the mystery even further. Intrigue is bursting from the seams of this comic. You've got monsters, amazing characters, and a terrifying baby. What more could you ask for?