Clear is a post-cyberpunk-themed comic series by Scott Snyder, one of the writers of Batman, and illustrated by Francis Manapul. It’s being published throughout 2022. It follows detective Sam Dunes, whose wife was just murdered, as he explores the reasons behind her death through veiling and unveiling augmented realities, searching for something real. This review covers the first five comics, with some spoilers ahead.
San Francisco has become a dystopia in 2052, a world so bad that people must veil it to deal with the ugliness of it all. Veils are skins that create an augmented reality viewable through cognitive implants. Some people replace the world with a quaint, western town, while others cartoonify it to soften its razor edge, but these veils are unique to their users, and there are laws against too many people sharing the same veil. This brings us to the themes of intersubjectivity, learned helplessness, and awakening.
Society has reached a point where there’s no consensus on reality: facts, news sources, good, evil, it’s all negotiable. While many postmodernists would view this as a good thing, society in Clear is far from enlightened, and the lack of social consensus on what people perceive keeps people disunited, engaged in their own personal virtual fantasies that deny the working class's struggle. Sam is clear though, meaning he takes reality straight up like a punch to the gut or a hard drink, refusing to veil it.