By Ashley Gibbs
We’ve reached issue four of the series and with only two remaining, things should be picking up to get readers pumped, except Clue #4 had the opposite effect on me. This issue didn’t move things along very much, and anything exciting that did happen was quickly brushed over. Two major characters seemingly die and it’s wrapped up in maybe two panels, though given how incompetent everyone in the story is, I’m not even sure if they killed each other properly. I went into this series with rose-colored nostalgia glasses, but the memory is fading, into gray disappointment.
Mr. Boddy is a jerk, everyone wants the McGuffin flowers and Miss Scarlette is useless; that about sums up the entire issue. While we’re given interesting flashbacks to explain how certain people know each other, nothing overly enticing is happening in the present day. Clue #3 ended on the shocker that Mr. Boddy faked his death, however, this plot point went nowhere in this issue. He spoke to his butler and ate a sandwich. Instead, the bulk of the issue is focused on the other guests wandering around the mansion, arguing and trying to kill each other except the bland writing makes it less fun than it sounds. Not even throwing in the classic “red herring” line from the movie can help.
Touching on the flashbacks again, they show the dramatis personae living interesting lives and having struggles and helps flesh them out. These are the better moments in the series so far since in their present setting they’re stuck in the mansion. Even characters who had good moments in previous issues faltered this time around, Plum and Orchid are regulated to the kitchen pantry most of the time with the former writing on the floor with ketchup. There is a story here, a potentially good one but it’s being dragged out and characters are deprived of moments to shine or any emotional investment from readers before they die. There is also the butler’s constant attacks on the fourth wall, which are a personal pet peeve of mine, his narration doesn’t help and wastes panels. When writing, the author should show not tell.
The artwork is the only consistently good aspect of this series, with bright colors and expressive characters. The other highlight is the use of flashbacks. They’re done in black-and-white tones with the pops of colors on the characters, like Mr. Green wearing a green shirt. It’s a nice touch and not only does it distinguish past events from the current crisis, it sets a certain mood and marks the importance of our suspects. If the entire series had a more serious tone, perhaps with nods to noir fiction, with the artwork done in the flashback style throughout, it would be an entirely different experience and perhaps better.
Clue #4 feels like a placeholder which hopefully leads to a dramatic conclusion. New information has been added, which is important in a whodunnit, however, I want more out of the cast. They have personalities, lives, motivations and are all connected even if only by the McGuffin flower yet they spend most of the time separated or talking to themselves. At this rate, when the big reveal happens most of them will be dead, except for the sassy butler who is not Tim Curry. Less butler, more story, please.
Writers: Paul Allor
Artists: Neilson Daniel
Letters: Neil Uyetake
Publisher: IDW Publishing