By Ashley Gibbs
Take one huge mansion, one odd host, a handful of guests and a dark and stormy night, mix it all together and somehow you end up with murder. Clue #1 is based on the classic board game and finds Mr. Boddy murdered after a dinner party with a house of suspects all with color-themed names. I’ve always enjoyed playing the game (outside of the US, you know this game as “Cluedo”) and loved the movie based on it as well so found myself eager to see how this comic reimagined everything. Sadly, what we get is a lot of unlikeable characters and not much mystery so far. Yes, there is a murder and we may know who did it but this isn’t confirmed, and then there is another murder so while these are mysterious elements I don’t find myself drawn in to solve them quite yet.
The story begins by committing a sin I despise: A character in the story breaks the fourth wall and narrates. I don’t know why but this bugs me, a lot. In this case it’s the butler. We met all of the usual suspects including a new one named Dr. Orchid, however you don’t have to be familiar with the game or any of its lore to enjoy the story but it helps the experience. I found probably half of the characters annoying, though they were written that way on purpose but as Mr. Boddy says he brought them all there for a reason but I can’t see why. They all seem to know each other or about each other, adding to the mystery but there aren’t any hints given because the murder of Mr. Boddy takes place leaving all questions unanswered. I wouldn’t have minded more build up to this but the whole point is to find out who did it and why. Everyone seems to be hiding something which could be interesting but this first issue is more about laying the pieces in place.
I enjoyed the artwork in this book. The characters look good and have good expressions, the backgrounds also get attention and aren’t left blank. Each room looks like a real room, though the mansion is so huge things do look empty but that’s not the artist’s fault. It does work in the story’s favor at times, showing how isolated the characters in these large rooms filled with barely anything. The page layouts are also good, the panels help the story flow very well. However, if characters aren’t front and center in a panel they lose facial details so any far away shots of them their faces just look like some dots. Also, a personal peeve, I didn’t like Miss Scarlett’s design. I know she's a musician but she looked like a character from Jem and it was very distracting.
One thing Clue #1 did right was make want to know more. Why did Mr. Boddy invite these people? Why was he killed? Does everyone have a shady history? Are they all being blackmailed? Is Communism just a red herring? While I would have liked more information in this issue, at least to help me care that Mr. Boddy was even dead or care about the characters in general, the pieces for a good mystery are there. I also liked the addition of Dr. Orchid and the two police detectives who show up after the murder. More characters hopefully mean more interesting stories to tell and plot points to weave together. The writers also manage to add in humor and jokes fans of the game will enjoy so I think this is a decent first issue and a series to keep an eye on as it continues.
Writers: Paul Allor
Artists: Nelson Daniel
Letters: Neil Uyetake
Publisher: IDW Publishing