You’ve played the game. You’ve seen the movie (right?). Now read Clue: Candlestick #1, the new comic adaptation written and illustrated by Dash Shaw.
Professor Plum receives a coded message from Mr. Boddy, informing him of threats against his life, and a desire to settle his estate’s vast collection of oddities. Of course, some of the collection’s most prized pieces include a rope, a lead pipe, and a candlestick to name a few. Plum heads off to meet his friend at a remote manor…but they’re not meeting alone.
Clue: Candlestick #1 is disarmingly funny and charming, yet strangely uncanny at the same time.
Much of the writing draws on the absurd as Shaw faithfully incorporates as many components of the game as possible, including the characters and the whodunit nature of the story. The murder weapons are all here, albeit with bizarre new backstories. Even the weird statues under which Boddy hides his friends’ keys are shaped like giant game pieces.
What’s interesting about this interpretation is that Mr. Boddy’s life isn’t the only one at stake. Until the killer’s identified, any of the characters could be on the chopping block. Clue: Candlestick #1 reads like something of a mashup between surreal comedy and an old dark house film. It’s a Wes Anderson take on The House on Haunted Hill, with distinct notes of Abbott and Costello in the mix. The dialogue is witty, without stepping into cloying territory.
The book invites readers to try and solve the mystery as the story plays out. Shaw signals deliberately to clues and other points of interest. At certain points, though, the clues being thrown around can be a bit distracting. Doubly so, when the writer draws deliberate attention to them through narrative interjection.
That said, there’s no immediate answers given. The mystery is allowed to simmer, giving readers the impression that there are more layers of complexity to unravel as the story progresses. There’s reread value here, too, as you pick up on new elements you might have missed on a first go around.
As mentioned, Shaw provides artwork for Clue: Candlestick #1 as well. He has a distinct vision for the work, providing brightly-colored, pop-tinged visuals that complement the writing’s off-kilter tone.
The art feels like a four-panel news comic in certain regards. The quirky and minimal line work conveys little dynamism or motion, making each panel feel fairly static. Character designs are reminiscent of something you might see on an Adult Swim series. However, the effect compliments the story, rather than detract from it. Detail is employed very selectively, as in illustrations of the murder weapons, or in key panels.
Shaw’s notes in Clue: Candlestick #1 become unavoidable elements of the page design throughout the book. The effect can be somewhat cluttered with notes directing the reader’s attention to different points. It’s not enough to overpower the work, but it is distracting at points.
Clue: Candlestick #1 is an attention-grabbing, unique start for the new series. It’s too early to say whether the charm will last or fade with successive issues. However, the creator’s vision for the series suggests it’s worth rolling the dice.