World Comic Book Review

29th February 2024

Clean Room Volume 1 (review) – Gail Simone Frightens Us

Clean Room #1
Vertigo Comics, December 2015
Writer: Gail Simone
Review by DG Stewart, 27 January 2015

Gail Simone is a comic book writer with a deserved reputation in characterisation. In titles such as Birds of Prey, Batgirl, Secret Six, and most recently Tomb Raider, Ms Simone takes often but not exclusively female characters and engages in a process of overhaul. This was most obvious in Secret Six where Ms Simone reshaped the previously forgettable villain Catman into a rational and even likeable personality. For very extended writing projects like Birds of Prey, this detailed addition of character was a prolonged exercise with some subtlety: certain players in the plot slowly changed direction over a long period of time, while others (notably the lead character, the paraplegic mastermind Barbara Gordon) engaged in a process of shaping peers – and, indeed, in the case of Barbara Gordon, authorial identification with the character rendered it sometimes difficult to ascertain where the fictional character ends and Ms Simone begins. These sometimes musty, sometimes unremarkable characters spring to life under Ms Simone’s care and interact with each other in a way which makes them approachable and likeable. Ms Simone has done this so often in the genre of superhero comics, and with such sympathy and thought, that one would think it was her exclusive stock-in-trade.

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