November 7, 2016
The Clean Room #13
“Time and Tide”
Written by: Gail Simone
Art by: Walter Geovani
Astrid Mueller, a former gothic horror novelist, now a mysterious self-help guru who helms an enormous cult-like organization (with many similarities to Scientology). Chloe Pierce is a journalist, whose fiancé, Phillip, is reading a book entitled, An Honest World: Unlocking the Explosive Potential Inside, written by Astrid. It is said that it will either enlighten a person or drive them completely insane. Needless to say, Phillip blows his brains out all over Chloe’s kitchen. Now, Chloe wants to know why, but what is this Clean Room she’s been hearing about? A place where your deepest fears and worst moments come to light. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that Astrid, while in the Clean Room herself, she contacted some kind of otherworldly beings. Aliens? Ghosts? Demons? Whatever they are, their intentions are not good.
By this current issue #13, “Time and Tide ”, the title has been well under way, having gone through several story arcs so far. Issue 13 addresses the aftermath of the, “Hell Above and Heaven Below” storyline, which spanned several previous issues. While wrapping up one story, the groundwork opens up for a new frightening direction concerning the “entities” and Astrid’s toddler niece. Chloe has gone home, forcing Astrid to follow her to enlist her help in the growing problem of said beings, but only after revealing what she knows about them. It would seem the horrible things they do to people, they do for their own amusement and now, something big and bad is coming. Astrid will give anything to have Chloe’s help, including allowing her friends come along , but the real clincher is showing her what the entities really want. Astrid’s niece. The little girl is more than meets the eye however. Prompted by Astrid, she shocks Chloe, displaying a terrible power and an unnatural knowledge come from beyond the grave. The final panel begins a new story arc with the arrival of Astrid’s would be killer and brother, Peter Mueller.
The Verdict: A pretty creepy comic even if jumping on board now. Gail Simone’s knowledge and interest in cults is undeniably present in her writing which makes for an unsettling and disturbing feel and look throughout. Some readers may find it hard to get interested in the title if not having read any of the previous issues. If you’re into slow, potboiling psychological horror, this is the book for you. The art is great. The antagonists are weird and creepy and the writer is well versed in her subject matter. It would be worth it to get the back issues to really appreciate this unique title. Since this is in DC’s Vertigo line, you’ve got strong language and nudity.