Astrid Mueller has made many people face their own fears in the Clean Room. What will happen when she is forced to face her own? Your Major Spoilers review of Clean Room #17 awaits!
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Walter Geovani
Colorist: Quinton Winter
Letterer: Todd Klein
Editor: Molly Mahan
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Clean Room: “Something is wrong—very wrong. As ordinary people go through their daily lives, bizarre things are happening everywhere—electricity going out, signals dropping, and most bizarre of all—the stars. The time they feared is coming—the Entities are coming and all of humanity is in danger.
Astrid Mueller has been preparing for this fight all along. But she must first face her brother who is hell-bent on destroying the Clean Room. Will Astrid be enough to save the world?
IT AIN’T PRETTY
As this issue opens, we find a whole city suddenly silenced, with no power, no wi-fi, no internet. The bewildered citizens take to the streets, only to discover that something is terribly wrong with the stars. There’s a sloooow build of horror in this section of the story that reminds me of ‘The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street’, as normal citizens slowly start to come to terms with their strange situation and a current of fear (and probably murder) grows with them. At the same time, Astrid Mueller has been trapped by her possessed brother in the Clean Room, trying to force him to reveal the location of her lieutenants, Chloe and Killian. They are trapped in Artus Mueller’s memory, reliving part of his horrific past, while he tortures Chloe with her own old horrors. And then, the tables turn…
THE KIND OF HORROR THAT LEAVES YOU RATTLED
This book has been a surprise from the very beginning, with false narrative leads and feints throughout, and even a decoy protagonist or two, but now that it’s hitting this stride, it feels like a classic Vertigo horror title. Geovani’s art is terrifying, managing to show enough of the monsters to terrify and make your skin crawl without removing all the unknown from their designs. As for Simone’s script… I’m just glad she has an outlet for this kind of stuff and doesn’t have to be alone with it. Astrid Mueller has been frightening since her very first appearance, but this issue shifts the perspective just enough to make her intimidating once again, and the larger story of what’s happening outside the Clean Room just adds to the discomfort, especially the last-page reveal…
THE BOTTOM LINE: EXCELLENT, IF TERRIFYING
As always, with a title like this you can’t be too careful: This is not for the under 18 set or those who dislike body horror and the occasional act of senseless violence. But, for those who care to partake, Clean Room #17 manages the difficult task of balancing psychological horror bits with a more visceral approach, with excellent art and writing and a stellar cast of characters, for a well-deserved 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. I don’t say this lightly: There’s a touch of Rod Serling to be had in these pages, balanced with just enough Herschell Gordon Lewis to make something entirely new and awful (in all the right ways.)