“Clue” wraps up this week with the sixth and final issue of its strange and funny whodunit. Answers are here, jokes are made, and why do I get the strange feeling that Grant Morrison had a hand in crafting this issue? Beware, many spoilers ahead. This is the reveal issue, after all.
Written by Paul Alllor
Illustrated and Colored by Nelson Daniel
Lettered by Neil Uyetake
For six issues, you’ve watched characters drop, and mysteries mount. Now, at last, every mystery and motivation is revealed. And it all leads up to a conclusion so shocking that we guarantee you won’t see it coming!
“Clue” is over, all its mysteries have been revealed and the loose ends are tied up in a way that is all at once traditional and modern. From the start, “Clue” has been a mini-series less concerned with internally discovering the murderer and more concerned with crafting a clever, funny mystery for the audience.
Unlike more traditional murder mysteries, or even the game this is based upon, there wasn’t going to be any detective to spell out all the clues to all the suspects, there wasn’t going to be a big reveal, capped off with an accusatory finger pointing and a poor attempt to deny the accusation – that just wasn’t the way this was set up. It was set up like the game, with every character (including us) being given different clues, so that at the end, we were the only ones with all the answers. You can see this way back in issue #1, when Upton keeps addressing who knows what.
As has been said before, this is a series that feels like it should be read in one sitting instead of month by month. I say this because I had to go back and read all the previous issues in order to recall where all the reveals in this issue were originally teased. That’s not a bad thing, as, having re-read the whole thing, the reveals here feel more coherent and well set up, although the actual answer to the mystery doesn’t leave me satisfied. I’ll get to that soon because what sticks with me is not the answer to the mystery but instead the final, meta-section of Upton tying up all the loose ends and I think that this was the best way this could have ended.
“Clue” has constantly lampooned all the normal narrative tropes in murder mysteries and so, in this closing chapter, it’s especially telling that the first two thirds of it is the most traditionally paced, with a wide use of Upton’s scorned flashbacks and a conspicuous lack of Upton’s narration. It was necessary and gives Daniel the excuse he needs to have some fun with his paneling.
Daniel’s art has been at its strongest when drawing montage panels or close-ups of the characters. Due to his simple, angular style, the characters’ faces tend to look off in wide shots, as their features blend into the shadowing and each other but in the close ups, he’s able to convey intense emotions, for both dramatic and comedic effect. One of his weaker panels though is the one, right before the flashback within a flashback page, where Mr. Green is vomiting onto the ground. His normally lithe and slightly sunken cheeks are distended and it makes him look like a chipmunk.
But panels like that are minimal and when it comes to the action, he utilizes the tried and true method of speed-lines to convey the intensity of the action. It works to great effect too, showing the ruthless efficiency that Upton uses to kill each and every member of the creative team, as well as us. He has so much fun with this section, getting to draw himself fighting Upton as well as getting to give Upton some wonderfully smug looks at the camera as the comic slowly devolves into an unedited, unlettered, undrawn script page. He’s both hilarious and chilling, especially when he lunges at us in the final panel.
And so, that brings me to my earlier comment, on the satisfaction with the overall mystery. “Clue” recognizes that its premise is based on an admittedly silly game (even though I love it). It’s about as basic a plot as can be, with six color coded characters in a stately manor, with a host of very outdated murder weapons (who even has a monkey wrench or a single candlestick) and instead of making this a serious reboot, they leaned into the crazy and played with it.Continued below
By making the meta-narrative with Upton more important than the “true” narrative, the audience is able to feel like they were in on the joke, like we were getting information no one else had (which is true) and able to make fun of the overused and overwrought narrative tropes that are necessary for crafting an effective and engaging reveal. Yet by changing the rules (Mr. Boddy isn’t actually dead and set everything up), this means that those who wanted to figure out the full mystery on their own before the final reveal are going to have an almost impossible time.
So, when it came time to lay out who Mr. Boddy was, who killed who, and why the scapegoat Mr. Green was set up, it felt a little hollow. We don’t know who Mr. Black is beforehand (or if we do, it’s a minor detail that I missed) and it takes a while to piece together the full picture of WHY. The why he did all this isn’t clear by the end and that’s the most important part of the big detective speech. They piece together the who, the how and the why and, while we get the who and the how, we don’t get the why.
Upton even acknowledges this, calling it a not so neatly tied up ending, after decrying the flashback within a flashback. This was the section that felt the most tied together and set up but that’s ok. The murder mystery was never the true focus and, while I may miss the big reveal moment, the ending we got was perfect for the series that Allor and Daniel had set up. Funny, meta-textual, and utilizing the medium to its full effect, “Clue” certainly is a book I’d read again and the best way to adapt a board game.
Final Verdict: 7.4. From Upton’s snarky narration, to the constant playing with traditional whodunit narratives, this was a thoroughly enjoyable comic and this issue caps it off with an ending I certainly didn’t see coming, even if it wasn’t as satisfying as I’d have liked.