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    “Clue” #5

    By | November 3rd, 2017
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Of all the things to be adapted into a comic, who’d have thought a classic board game would become one so entertaining? (Note that I haven’t seen the 1985 Clue movie, though I do know that the comic has taken several notes from it.) The “Clue” comic is slowly approaching its end, but until then, there are twists and revelations to enjoy.

    Written by Paul Allor
    Illustrated and colored by Nelson Daniel
    Lettered by Neil Uyetake

    The storm intensifies, both inside and outside the mansion. As the end of our tale draws near, Upton struggles to keep his employer’s secrets under wraps, and our guests continue to hang around—some more literally than others.

    IDW’s take on “Clue” has so far provided a clever take on the board game and movie, updating the characters to a more modern form, and interweaving all their plots and motivations, along with a plotline about a rare flower. With only one issue to go, it’s still hard to call how the story will end, but we’re picking up more clues and hints along the way.

    That’s helped in no small part by the comic’s use of flashbacks, a tactic “Clue” itself lampshades. The flashbacks not only provide us with context for the scenes we as readers, like the characters themselves, find ourselves walking in on, but add more depth to the characters and expand on their goals. While Miss Scarlet, for instance, came across as an image-obsessed diva in previous issues, the flashback in this one provides us with insights as to why, and helps humanize her in the eyes of the readers.

    Further flashbacks tell us more and more about what certain central characters have been up to, and while saying more would be delving too deep into spoiler territory, the pieces we see fall into place have been properly foreshadowed, and feel entirely in-character. It lets us, as readers, start to see the bigger picture, but “Clue” still throws a few surprises at us to show that there’s much more we still don’t fully understand. That, of course, is well in the comic’s favor, for what kind of mystery or thriller would it be if we figured everything out before the final issue?

    Perhaps the greatest strength to “Clue” lies in its use of the butler as the omniscient narrator, and the fourth wall breaking that comes with it. In recent issues, the fourth wall was broken to the point where he was having an extended conversation with Carlos Guzman, the editor, to the point where it dragged out the joke a little, but this issue manages to keep it at just enough of a minimum to get maximum effect out of it.

    Additionally, the art work for “Clue” does a fine job at setting the emotion for each scene. Nelson Daniel’s artwork has a unique look to it, utilizing lean and angular character designs, each with a very distinctive look about them. The shading tends to utilize the “dotted shade” style (which I’m sure has a more professional term, but I find it’s easiest to describe as such), which contributes nicely to the overall tone of each scene.

    Speaking of the scenes, each page and panel features some impressive composition. One page early on features a very nice shot of the manor’s large hallway, with the symmetrical pillars and balcony taking up most of the page. The top and bottom of the page center the apparent murderer, the victim, and the witnesses, all in one wordless page. It’s wonderfully done.

    At further moments throughout “Clue,” we get some individual frames that are equally well composed. In one scene, the shading provides a nice ominous light over Dr. Orchid as she and Professor Plum move to confront Boddy, while another provides great focus on Mr. Green and his perfectly scummy expressions.

    Of course, in a comic and game where all of the characters are named for certain colors, color plays a big role in the artwork. It’s particularly noticeable when Professor Plum’s notes and clues written in red ketchup all lead up to the name “Mustard” written in, well, Mustard, but everyone wears something color-corresponding to their namesakes. That’s particularly poignant during flashback scenes, where everything is in black-and-white, save for the colors of the corresponding character.

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    As such, the color use adds a nice touch to the flashback scenes, making the vibrant red of Miss Scarlet’s hair and leggings stand out against a field of grey, and the green shades of Mr. Green’s shirt seem sickly. The same cannot be said for Senator White, because she’s already wearing all-white in a black-and-white scene, but that may serve a symbolic purpose yet.

    Throughout it all, the characters remain very well-written. Paul Allor has given them all distinct voices, personalities, and traits, which have helped make them feel more real to the readers, rather than pieces in a game we’re watching play out. Of course, there’s no doubt that the ever-composed and snarky butler makes for the best character, seamlessly blending the narration and side-comments with his remarks to the other characters, but everyone has their own quirks and reasons to love or hate them. We even get some insights to characters posthumously, as the aforementioned flashbacks let us learn about their drives and desires, and new revelations for still-living characters help them grow in our eyes.

    However, this is certainly a comic that’s meant to be read in one go, rather than over a course of several months. It’s easy to forget little details in the weeks between issues, and “Clue” is much stronger when you can read everything in one go, maintaining a stronger narrative flow.

    Still, the story Paul Allor has crafted has remained entertaining, and Nelson Daniel’s art continues to be engaging, so even if you’re just getting the story in bits and pieces, it’ll still tide you over until the conclusion next month.

    Final Verdict: 6.7 – The penultimate issue provides some new revelations and plot twists, maintaining the strong artwork and story flow that the previous issues have set up. The biggest moments are undoubtedly reserved for next month, but this issue builds up nicely to the upcoming conclusion.

    Robbie Pleasant