Comic Review – Clean Room #5

  • Writer: Gail Simone
  • Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
  • Colorist: Quinton Winter
  • Letterer: Todd Klein
  • Publisher: Vertigo Comics
  • Release Date: February 17, 2016

Clean Room #5 contains more of the spine-tingling horror that we’ve come to love about the series and things go pear-shaped in the worst way for our leading ladies.

Back in Clean Room #4, things were getting pretty hairy for Astrid Mueller and Chloe Pierce. Not only was the eponymous clean room breached by a hostile presence that seems out to get Astrid, but then Chloe found herself under attack by a mysterious figure that wants her to kill herself. It was a seriously wild ride and it ended, as this series often does, with a cliffhanger.

Clean Room #5

This month in Clean Room #5, the metaphorical shit hits the fan in a major way. Two hours after the previous issue, Astrid and her assistant Terry are stuck inside the clean room with the cooling body of their client and a being looking for a new host. Of course, Astrid isn’t exactly hospitable to that and so Terry winds up playing the unwilling host to a being later referred to as Kemf. Kemf is… skeevy as far as the nasties in this comic go, but par for the course considering the type of things we’ve seen lurking around in Clean Room. It takes Astrid reminding Terry of the worst moments of his life (by recreating it in the clean room) in order to break its hold.

Okay, so one of the things that I love about Clean Room is how so far, you never leave with all of the answers. Every issue, you find out something new about the plot, like three more things come up to mess with your mind and shake your view of the comic.

As of this issue, I now have about ten more questions about what’s going on. Sure, most of them are some variant of “what the heck did I just read”, but still, they count. Now, I know a bit more about the way that Astrid’s organization works and what they’re fighting against. I know that she’s got her hooks into a ton of powerful people and is using them to influence the masses (which is explored in the Capone subplot this issue).

But why? Why is Astrid at the center of this whole thing?

As far as I can tell, no one outside of her organization seems able to see the entities around them and no one seems capable of comprehending what Astrid is actually doing (outside of the potential aliens themselves). She’s recruiting people into her organization and trying to keep other people in her grasp, but it looks like only her inner circle gets to know what’s going on. No one else.

So why has she made it her mission to take things like Kemf on? Seriously, I need to know more!

Now at the same time, Chloe Pierce is going through yet another awful experience. After essentially being pushed to commit suicide, she blacks out and wakes up in her own bed. Alive and mostly safe. We get to see another entity in her house who makes my skin crawl both in its original form and when it takes over the body of one of Chloe’s neighbors. I love that Chloe’s instinctive response to that sort of horror is to grab her cat and her keys and make a run for it. Because that’s certainly what I would’ve done in her case (but with more screaming).

Also: the creatures that Chloe sees and comes into contact with are so icky to me and yet I can’t look away because Jon Davis-Hunt’s art is so captivating and the creatures are both freaky and fascinating. I’d love to know the inspiration behind the designs for the creatures because I’ve literally never seen anything like them before.

Okay, so a lot goes down in Clean Room #5 and it’s all amazingly messed up. I love this comic so much more than I thought I would (and I expected to like it a lot) and that’s due to how awesome Gail Simone and Jon Davis-Hunt work together. As a team they’ve shoved us into this world so like ours except for what walks among us and I love that the series is so terrifying and unpredictable. I can’t help but wonder what’s going to happen once Astrid finally gets out of her compromised clean room and it’s driving me up a wall.

Here’s hoping that Clean Room #6 is just as amazing as this issue and that some of my questions get answered!

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About the author

Zina Hutton

writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories.

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