- Writer: Gail Simone
- Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
- Colorist: Quinton Winter
- Letterer: Todd Klein
- Publisher: Vertigo Comics
- Release Date: January 20, 2016
We’re four issues in to Gail Simone and Jon Davis-Hunt’s spine tingling work of psychological horror and things just keep getting more twisted in Clean Room #4. From cover to closing, every single page of this comic just serves to ratchet the anticipation and tension higher while remaining a work that essentially plucks at your nerves.
When we last saw the Clean Room, we were witness to a side of Astrid’s life that we possibly weren’t expecting when a therapy session goes horribly wrong and one of her clients seems to be infected, or perhaps possessed, by another being. At the same time, we saw yet another way that Chloe’s life was going to be difficult thanks to a mysterious blue-skinned creature that was intent on breaking into her house and the fact that she needed to be rescued by Killian Reed after a stop for gas got bad.
This month, things aren’t any better.
In fact, they might actually be worse.
Clean Room #4 opens in Norway, fifteen years before the start of the series. A younger Astrid Mueller approaches Doctor Hagen, a man who seems able to see the sexual in every moment. Literally. He’s seeing stuff on a sexual level (orgies and whatnot) where other people aren’t and from the context of the comic, you get the feeling that his scientific progress and reputation have stalled. But Astrid still wants him to come join her organization and even more, she wants him to help her build a cloudbuster, a form of sky cannon. (To fight aliens, most likely.)
Oh, one thing I should mention is that Clean Room #4 has a fair amount more nudity than the other three books in the series so far as well as some sexual situations. These images come up primarily in the beginning of the book, but there aren’t any moments that I felt came off as pointless.
Anyway, Astrid and one of her assistants are stuck in the Clean Room with the infiltrator. Talking. For four hours. The infiltrator keeps telling her things, spinning her an obvious story that lasts and lasts and lasts. It’s kind of ridiculous because it’s so clear that whatever it is inside of that poor man, it’s trying to manipulate Astrid (or maybe the young man with her).
What I thought was interesting in Clean Room #4 was how the conversations almost seemed to reference an existing relationship, something like an eternal battle between two opposing forces. The infiltrator references the burning of the library of Alexandria (and even claims responsibility for it) and mentions running over someone I can only assume is Astrid. She’s built the Clean Room as a fortress, as the heart of her defense, but why –
I mean, she knows that something’s out there and she wants to be able to take them down, but what are they and why does it look like she’s spent much of her life trying to defeat these beings? Why does Terry shooting the infiltrator count as something that would doom them all? Why are they as interested in Astrid as much as she’s interested in them?
On Chloe’s end, things are also dire. She comes home to find her life in shambles: her job has let her go, Killian wants to offer her a job, her neighbors have been injured by the blue-skinned weirdo from the last issue, and what else…Oh. Yeah. She’s not alone in her house.
There’s a strange and definitely alien being there and his only goal is to help Chloe kill herself. We don’t know why. We don’t know who sent them. We don’t know much of anything because this is the final page of the issue and it’s a particularly scream-inspiring cliffhanger.
I definitely wound up with more questions than answers in Clean Room #4, but that’s okay because I love this series. I’ve never before been invested in something so gory that still has me chomping at the bit for more. I love every single issue that comes out for Clean Room because of Gail Simone’s plots and because of Jon Davis-Hunt’s skill at balancing beauty with darkness. It’s a series worth returning to because the ending of this arc is going to be one to shatter all our expectations. I seriously can’t wait to see what terrifying things our creative team will bring us next month!
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