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Clear by Sam Snyder - Cyberpunk 

clear cyberpunk comic review cover by scott snyder showing a man in a helmet over a pink background in your face with a gun and a whimsical style


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.

motorcyclist on street with fancy helmet

Over a series of action sequences and betrayal, Sam soon discovers his wife, Kendra, had other plans before she died. Her goal was to create an illicit shared veil so powerful it could lead to a revolution against the oppressive system that allowed inequality to flourish. That veil would not be a veil at all, but a revelation of truth. Unfortunately, this revelation comes in a file size too big for the system to handle, the idea of freedom too idealistic, and actual reality ends up being more frayed and fragmented then anything they can imagine.
clear drawings kids

As the story progresses, The Widow is revealed, an interesting character with ambiguous intention who is the key to Sam's mystery. Her sweeping robes are windows into the veils of augmented reality, allowing others to see new worlds of possibility. But what is most striking is what Sam Dunes ends up unseeing...
clear the widow comic snyder

The writing style is straightforward, with typical noir references that cyberpunk aficionados will find all too familiar, right down to the femme fatale. The artwork is beautiful, with creative layouts, especially when veiled reality comes glitching through the real world. A simple watch and an old cherry tree offer powerful symbolism, the latter which will need to be reintroduced at the series’ end to capitalize on the metaphor. Check it out, and if you like Clear and the idea of a motorcycle-riding protagonist with a dark past caught up in a dystopian, cyberpunk world, then also check out The Demon by Tanweer Dar.