In Plain Sight

Mar 9, 2023


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Clear #1 Cvr A Francis Manapul

Say can you see, beyond your own nose?  Because the world looks differently when everyone’s view is seen.  And not merely some people’s point of view.  But, what if you could open your eyes and see everything as your own personal paradise?  Or purgatory or even a Pac-Man simulation?  Dark Horse Comics invites readers to look at what civilization has become in the year 2052.  You won’t believe your eyes, but that’s the point of Clear.  

Clear #1

Dark Horse Comics

Co-Created by: Scott Snyder & Francis Manapul
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist and Colors: Francis Manapul
Letters: AndWorld Design

Issue #1 of Clear opens with a joke, but you may want to hold on to the laugh.  Within the tale of the burning asylum and the doctor’s watch there is a truth that, when combined with Francis Manapul’s illustrations of the young woman on a seemingly casual stroll on the Golden Gate Bridge, shows situations are all about perspective.  Pay close attention to the faces and figures walking in the rain alongside this redhead and you might notice they are all metallic.  Is that why what happens next doesn’t affect them in the slightest?  Are they like the patients in the asylum,  merely choosing to see things differently?  

The outlook writer Scott Snyder shows in Clear #1 is bleak and quite believable; as if the writer got a glimpse of Madame Serena‘s crystal ball.  Clear depicts a view of tomorrow that doesn’t overlook how it is being created  by our actions and behaviors today.  As the issue moves past the unsightly opening, readers get an understanding of life in the USA in 2052 from the hero of Clear, Detective Sam Dunes.  However, he isn’t the official, sanctioned sort of detective.  More like the “private eyes are watching” you type.  As he monitors a wealthy man named Madders, who may no longer have eyes for his wife, all appears normal to Dunes.  This allows Dunes as the narrator to explain what readers are witnessing.  Synder’s Clear has humanity actually buying, not into what they see, but rather into what they want to see.  

And the causes, and the cure, are quite transparent.  In Clear, this all is a direct result of humanity, and for the story specifically the United States, not paying attention.  Red Tuesday, which is shown later in flashback, was a shortsighted attack which cripples the country.  From there, coming to grips with what humanity has become in Clear isn’t hard to visualize.  A geo-political destabilization occurring alongside planetary degradation. 

Manapul illustrates 2052’s San Francisco streets with a neon illumination, giving this future a feel similar to The Fifth Element.  Humanity has evolved in that direction as well, since in Clear we are all computers – with our eyes being the screen.  So when brands like Veil, products which allow individuals to alter what they see, become available, everyone’s world does change. Into exactly what they want.  Your world could actually look like the Tootsie Roll commercial/jingle from the 70s. 

Despite his superhero appearance when on surveillance, don’t let Dunes’ helmet deceive you – the neo-shamus is human.  Actually, unlike the rest of society, Dunes pays extra to not live in a fantasy. That changes once a sneak attack gets him hit with a dose of Zad, multiple Veil’s running into each other.  According to Dunes it comes from the term Scheherezade, stories within stories.  And it is at this moment, that instead of breaking the 4th wall, Clear builds a new one.  It begins with Manapul’s brilliant panel overlays, a car chase showing what Dunes should be seeing under his new multiple Veil viewpoints.  

After this incident Snyder’s story will have you questioning what you are witnessing.  Maybe it’s the revelation that the redhead, Kendra, was Dune’s ex-wife. Would that change the way that moment looks?  Or what about the arrival of Madder’s wife at Dunes office after he receives the news of Kendra’s death?  The scorned wife turned seductress shows up in a classic gumshoe office scene, opting for black and auburn instead of the traditional black and white.  Is the purpose of Mrs. Madder’s comments on Dune’s affinity for old trinkets to point readers in the right direction?  Especially since things from before Red Tuesday are immune to the effects of Veil.

Detective Dunes suffers a loss at the beginning of this issue and clearly this was not the first.  Now as he looks for answers, are the creators of Clear showing readers the importance of the things we dismiss without even a glance, while living the lies of the illusions.  The things we miss.  Or will.    

Score: 9.1