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The Cleaners #1

Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2008
By: Karyn Pinter

Joshua Hale Fialkov, Mark Wheaton
Rahsan Ekedal, Jon Graef (c), Michael David Thomas (l)
Dark Horse Comics
EDITOR's NOTE: The Cleaners #1 will be released on November 12 and is currently available for pre-order.

It's a blood bath! But that seems to be the best thing going for The Cleaners, pages and pages of comic blood. From the opening pages you think this is going to be awesome! A murder mystery involving a crime scene clean up crew -- how could you go wrong? It's hard to put my finger directly on it, but something is missing and it's not just one piece of the puzzle, but a few. The story isn't terrible, just a little weak; it doesn't seem to have its legs yet.

Plot wise, this is how it goes. Robert Bellarmine is a crime scene cleaner, one of the best there is. While in the middle of cleaning a blood soaked hotel suite, Robert is called in for a big job -- a neighborhood has been freshly painted over with blood and lots of it. The blood turns out to be from eleven different victims and some of the blood is more then twenty years old. So, naturally, the question is asked, where did it come from? Then there are some panels of a kidnapped child. Now with a long and exasperated sigh, I write: I think vampires are involved. At least we are lead to believe that there might be some kind of vampire activity going on by the last panel of the comic.

For a comic that is "in the tradition of Los Angeles noir" it has strayed far from the noir base. Supernatural and noir are two subjects that can work together very well if written right. The Cleaners doesn't quite make the grade in the way that, say, the film Dark City did. There is a dark element to noir stories that is a constant presence, but is unfortunately absent from The Cleaners. It would have passed as noir a little better if the art was black and white and gray tones instead of full color.

One of the more creative parts of the comic are the two page layouts of the crime scenes waiting to be cleaned, and the information bubbles that contain quick facts about the crime scene and the tools being used to clean it. The art work was very well done and Rahsan Ekedal should be proud of his work for it is more memorable than the writing.

There are only four issues in this mini-series and with one down the story should hopefully pick up in the next issue, but there isn't any guarantee of greatness. Sadly, The Cleaners comes off as another back of the rack comic.



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