Best Jackett Press’ Clear #1 Comic Review
Scott Snyder and Francis Manapul launch an immersive cyberpunk world for their creator-owned series Clear, and the comic excels vibrantly.
Acclaimed creator Scott Snyder continues to roll out his new partnership with ComiXology through his creator-owned publishing imprint Best Jackett Press, with his second launch this October. Reuniting with award-winning artist and creator Francis Manapul, Snyder and Manapul continue Best Jackett’s October rollout with the cyberpunk murder mystery Clear. Best Jackett Press’ Clear is among the most visually impressive of Manapul’s works. Its debut issue wastes no time drawing readers into its immersive, imaginative dystopia. It delivers more than a little social commentary without coming off as overly heavy-handed.
Set in San Francisco in the year 2052, Clear showcases a world where the populace wears visors that tailor how they individually see the world through a digital interface. This rain-soaked, neon-lit vision of a city is seen through the eyes of private investigator Sam, who opts to maintain a clear look at the world how it truly is. When Sam stumbles upon a murder mystery that strikes at the very heart of his personal life, this weary private dick is driven deeper into this world of intrigue, digital tunnel vision, and prefabricated reality while he hunts for a killer.
While Snyder has woven plenty of mystery and crime elements into his prior work, Clear marks his first major foray into the neo-noir genre and a bonafide whodunnit. There is no Caped Crusader swooping in to solve a murder mystery from the Batcave this time. That, coupled with Clear‘s apparent cyberpunk flourishes makes the new title stand out from the rest of Snyder’s growing bibliography while underscoring plenty of social commentary regarding an increasingly digitally dependent society and the meaning of objective truth. Those messages aren’t oppressively dominant in the story but do add a narrative resonance to the proceedings. However, Snyder leaves plenty of breadcrumbs and hard-hitting action to remind the reader that the whole thing is supposed to be fun.
Clear stands as a showcase for Manapul’s artwork with some of his most atmospheric work to date as he delves into this futuristic vision of San Francisco. With each individual possessing a different perspective on how they see the same city, this premise offers Manapul the opportunity to provide a whole cornucopia of different styles — from classic 1930s cartoons to zombie apocalypses — in the same settings. Although there is action and menace in this opening issue, the story’s more deliberate pace slowly invites readers into this dystopian world. Judging by Clear‘s debut, Manapul is going to get the chance to completely cut loose visually as the stakes and scope escalate in future issues.
Clear is the title that stands the most outside of Best Jackett Press’ current slate. It distinctly reminds readers what the publishing imprint can be while delivering something that works perfectly for the comic book medium. Storytelling confidence emanates each page of Clear, upping the issue’s stakes and taking narrative risks while still hewing close to its personal, thematic heart. And as bombastic as the visuals in Clear can get, it’s that heart that will hopefully keep readers coming back for more as they follow the threads of this mystery into its immersive world.
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