Corvidae Comics launched the first issue of new series Clean at last weeks Dunfermline Comic Con and if that cover doesn’t hint at the mature nature of what’s inside, then you’re just not paying attention.
Writer/artist Bex Tough brings us a grim story of the life of Jack Collins as he prepares for an initiation for a brand new life that we’re in the dark about for this entire first issue but that works in this opening issue’s favour. He’s giving up his “normal” life to be part of a new celebrity world but the underbelly we get a glimpse of paints a picture of an all-controlling force that will stretch to any means to keep its representatives under control.
Jack’s transformation sees him disappear from his own family and when he returns from obscurity to appear in the limelight it’s a chance for him to reconnect with his nearest & dearest but the controlling forces behind him even have their grubby mitts all over that too. The narration, the dialogue & the visuals don’t pull any punches and while they all earn that mature/NSFW classification it all makes some sort of morbid sense in the context of the overall story.
The mystery surrounding the “powers-that-be” is well hidden throughout this opener and rather than leaving us feeling isolated it works to build a strong momentum in a series that show promise. The story is gritty, as is the language used, but that shows how willing Bex is to hit her story head-on and slap you in the face with some visuals or an expletive to keep you on your toes. The one minor quibble I would have is the amount of dialogue & narration that’s on some of the pages as it feels like it almost overwhelms the story itself and with visuals as good as this there’s no harm in letting that speak for itself.
A seriously dark plot-line containing some stark realities mixed with slick black & white visuals helps this first issue deliver on surprises while leaving you dangling on some of the detail and that all manages to keep you turning the pages with its car-crash mentality which stops you from looking away. I’m keen to see where this goes and how Bex develops the rest of the series so the next issue can’t come quick enough.