DC Comics superstar writer Scott Snyder feels like a man spinning a billion plates at once, but the last few weeks have proven monumentally busy. Having launched his own substack about comics writing and announced one of multiple new original series for Comixology Originals with long-time collaborator Greg Capullo, Snyder is ready for more—and he’s bringing a Justice League friend along for the ride.
io9 has an exclusive look at Clear, the second of three upcoming Comixology Original series penned by Snyder in the wake of We Have Demons with Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, Dave McCaig. and Tom Napolitano. This time Snyder is teaming with his former Justice League artist Francis Manapul—the artist’s first creator-owned project—and letterer Andworld Design, to sell a sci-fi mystery thriller about a seeming suicide that’s not what it seems, in a future where the way we interact with the Internet has become even more closely linked to our humanity than ever before.
“My noir and sci-fi inspirations for this one are pretty baked into the DNA, everything from Raymond Chandler and Elmore Leonard to Phillip Dick and Margaret Atwood,” Snyder said in a statement provided to io9 over email. “But I think an even bigger influence is just watching how my kids engage with the world these days. The way they consume entertainment, the way they get their information, everything is algorithm based, offering them more of what they already like. For me, the story is a triangulation between those things, noir, speculative fiction, and a real fear about current trends.”
For Manapul, Clear represented a chance not just to work on something he owned himself, but reach into an artistic tone and palette that was decidedly different from his past work at DC Comics. “Visually, it’s drastically different from my past work. I’m used to adhering to a certain aesthetic, from character structures to their defined color palette. With Clear I feel let loose. If I want to color someone’s face neon pink because the light around them is creating that look, I can,” Manapul told io9 over email. “As simple as it sounds being able to move away from the local colors of the iconic designs of superhero characters has given me an opportunity to heighten the drama of certain scenes. Neo-noir, Crime-noir, whatever you want to call it, is a genre I haven’t had the opportunity to fully explore. I’ve touched on the crime genre with my previous work on Detective Comics, but Clear is such a kaleidoscope of an experience it’s not really a fair comparison.”
Clear is set in a future San Francisco, in a world where the way humanity goes online has radically evolved. Now connecting to the internet neurologically through equipment called veils, people experience the internet in a radically different way—and for a price, can use their veils to transform the world around them with different illusory masks. Each veil is personal so other users can’t see what you do, but the line between reality and online surreality is very blurred. That’s where private detective Sam Dunes steps in, he’s investigating the illegal black veil market when an old partner checks in to inform him of his ex-wife’s seeming death by suicide. When Sam uncovers that his wife’s death isn’t all that it seems, he’s thrust into San Francisco’s dark underworld and into a conspiracy that could tear the city apart.
“Out of all the books in the line, this one is likely the most urgent and immediate and desperate when it comes to this moment and what it’s saying. I think more than anything these days, we’re all surrounded by mechanisms that reaffirm what we already believe, what we already like, what we already want — Search engines, apps, streaming services, all of it steers us away from things that might challenges, or scare us or upset us, things that might force us to engage outside of our comfort zones. I think people are becoming used to insulating themselves, isolating themselves,” Snyder continued. “Francis and I had long talks about this when we were discussing the possibility of doing a book together. We wanted to do a science-fiction piece that would allow him to really explode visually and try all kinds of different styles, but we also wanted it to be something that spoke to our shared fears about this moment and where things might go. Ultimately the book presents this almost casually nightmarish future, where everyone would rather exist in their own subjective bubble then deal with any kind of objective reality, or truth. Rather than facing kind of systemic challenges, we’d rather see the world as we want, in ways that comfort us.”
“The look of the book is inspired by night photography. The way the light bounces off metal, or soaked streets, is quite a sight to see,” Manapul added. “It’s the urban equivalent of being in awe of the leaves changing colors in the fall. That kinda stuff is just beautiful to look at, so I try to capture that with this book.” Check out a preview from Clear’s first issue below, making its debut here on io9!
Clear, a six-part miniseries will launch as part of Comixology’s Originals line on October 12, and will be available for free Amazon Prime, Kindle Unlimited, and Comixology Unlimited subscribers, and available to purchase otherwise on both the Kindle Store and Comixology.
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