The Cleaners #1


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The Cleaners #1


  • Words: Mark Wheaton & Joshua Hale Fialkov
  • Art: Rahsan Ekedal
  • Inks: Rahsan Ekedal
  • Colors: Jon Graef
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Nov 12, 2008

Meet Rick Bellarmine and his company. They are a legitimate version of Pulp Fiction’s "The Wolf". When bloody messes happen, they are who law-abiding citizens call. Well, those with money.

A book created by a bunch of new faces is at once an exciting and daunting prospect. Will it rock your socks or make you wish you had bought a pair of socks instead? Fortunately for The Cleaners, Wheaton and Fialkov appear to be phenomenal writers.

It is evident from the book that they have done their homework, or they have a unique talent to create convincing medicine, science and forensics details. Either way, the end effect on the typical lay reader is the same. One believes what is happening is possible and well explained.

There is a scientific mind set from the principal that makes gruesome crime scenes seem commonplace. He reassures not only his clients, but the reader, that all will be right. It is a bit of subtle characterization that is prevalent throughout the script. The character work is so deftly employed that it is hardly noticeable. The actual story only gives clues to the reader on how to identify with Rick, but by the end of this first issue you feel like you know him and trust him.

This is a good thing, given the last few pages. You begin to sense that something more sinister is going on and you realize how skillful the foreshadowing on the first two pages is. When Rick states that he has always seen worse, he is letting his client know his professionalism, letting the reader know that it will be shocking, but by the end of the book you believe that his statement is going to turn out not to be as true as it once was. This builds a great deal of tension.

This minute attention to details makes this a rewarding read. The reader realizes there is more to this, but through science there is a sense of complacency. That sense will have to be destroyed and the unraveling of it begins in the end pages. It means that the bimonthly schedule will appear to be an eternity.

Where the script is almost flawless, the art leaves a little to be desired. Ekedal assists in the cold feeling at the crime scenes and gives the book some interesting panel work. However, his characters seem to be wooden. There is emotion conveyed, but with the exception of Rick, the emotions seem forced. They are false like a child forced to smile for a picture or relative even though he is angry with his parents.

This leads to storytelling problems. The wooden characters seem to be caught in photographs taken with long gaps in between. There is a disconnect that keeps the well laid out panels from feeling fluid. The needs of the script are met, but the art doesn’t match up well with the writing. Don’t get it wrong though, Ekedal has talent and from the editor’s afterword, ambition in spades. He merely has some growing to do. If comic readers are lucky, it will be fun to watch him mature.

The Cleaners is a strong debut in every sense. The writers show a powerful, yet careful voice. The artist shows talent and promise. The story though . . . it has more potential than any horror title since 30 Days of Night made the scene.

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