Time to wrap up this ladies month with a story that stars several lead female characters in a tale of mystery and horror, written by Gail Simone and art by Jon Davis-Hunt. Now summing up the premise behind Clean Room so far is going to be difficult because were still close to the start of the narrative, things are being put in place that will pay off further down the line so I recommend you check out my post on Book One first. But in a nutshell we have two main characters, Astrid Mueller who is a writer of horror fiction and since an accident as a child has been able to see monsters preying on other humans. She has set up her own Scientologyalike cult to figure out what these things are and how to fight them, with the titular Clean Room being used to communicate with and exorcise these beings. Our other main character is Chloe Pierce who, after attempting suicide in book one greiving the suicide of her boyfriend (a member of Astrid's organisation) who killed himself upon being told the ultimate truth behind Astrid's religion, has found herself being unwillingly groomed by Astrid as a potential ally. Now she can also see these monstrous beings as well, although her friendship with one who actually saved her from an attack by a third party means things are not as cut-and-dried as it would seem. So let's continue into the sinister world of the Clean Room.
The story begins with a teenage Astrid visiting a hospitalised girl called Anika Wells. Anika tells Astrid that she was taken by mysterious beings into a white room, "they ripped me open from above, like I wasn't worthy of their touch". They felt contempt for her but also liked hurting her. She also dreamed the same word over and over, "Exoduction". Astrid looks at the word, "a portmanteau. How interesting."
Seventeen years later we are back at Astrid's building in Chicago. She takes a meal into a darkened room. Inside on hospital bed is Anika, her left side horrifically wasted and withered. Astrid tells her about Chloe, "tremendous promise. Off the scale." Anika weakly says Astrid has to let her go, but Astrid says she can't do this without her.
Astrid: "I believe these entities... mean to do us harm. I believe they can hide inside of us. Do things to our flesh. And I've been tracking them, Anika. Starting with my own father."
Then we cut to Chloe Pierce being informally interviewed by Detective Avil Demakos. He wants to know how much she knew about the death of a man called Michael Parks. She didn't really know him, just bought him some new socks as he was homeless. He was found tied in a knot. She invites him in for tea and asks if she knows of Astrid Mueller. Back with present day Astrid she is getting ready for a private session in the Clean Room.
|Chloe and Detective Avil.|
Chloe: "What if we were just in the road when they drove through? What if we're jaywalkers in a never-ending hit-and-run? What if we're just...just... road-kill?"
Astrid enters the Clean Room and into a memory of her own, her and her family at church on the day she was hit by the car. A man in black, comes and sits next to her saying his name is Doctor Potter, "you may know me as the Surgeon".
He tells Astrid he engineered her childhood accident. They wanted her dead because she would be able to see them, but just ended up unlocking the ability faster. When Astrid blows him off and makes to leave and this enrages him. He hands her a bag with a disciples genitals in and says they'll come for her when she is weak, then take all the others who have ever got close to her and with that he leaves. Astrid shuts off the Clean Room and also leaves gagging for a cup of tea.
|The Surgeon and Astrid.|
|The shooting aftermath.|
...who is currently out for a meal with Detective Avil, unsure if it's a date or an official interview. She's told him all about Astrid's goals her organisation and all the weird stuff and wonders why he believes her. He says that when they untangled the hobo they found he had two right hands. So yes he believes the weird stuff now. Then Killian phones her and summons her to Chicago.
The injured assassin is being questioned by Capone and he tells her his name is Peter Mueller, Astrid's brother. A helicopter arrives at Chloe's house where she and Avil had returned to. Her three neighbours, the brothers who keep a look out for her say they are coming too. Meanwhile Killian uses the threat of losing his "Utopian" status on the best heart surgeon in Illinois to get him to come out to Astrid. She then goes into Astrid's office alone and starts watching a video Astrid left her if something were to happen to her.
Astrid: "This next thing might be a bit of a shock. Hell is real and the Devil is coming".
Meanwhile Duncan kisses his male lover and goes outside to deal with the Chicago Police. When one of the cops starts saying they'll get a warrant for the scene, Duncan whispers that he understands his daughter works in one of their outreach centres in Africa. And if he doesn't "turn around and leave... you'll never see your daughter again."
|Collecting Chloe and friends.|
Chloe says she's been seeing monsters everywhere and so is not afraid of Killian's gun. So Killian uses the Clean Room to make a bigger one. Astrid stops them arguing and weakly asks why Chloe bought it in. Chloe explains Spark was "blessed by the church right the fuck out of a young Spanish girl... and he's here now for me." When the Surgeon came for her she survived because of Spark.
Chloe: "I think they gospelled the dark shit right out of him Astrid".
So the plan is that he rides her flesh and puts her back together again. She asks Spark to say he'll save her but he says "no." Astrid goes into Vfib and as she begins to die, Chloe pleads with Spark to help.
Then we get a flashback to Astrid seventeen years ago driving through the desert with a couple of friends. She gets out the can and sees a huge winged thing hovering close by. The other two can't see it. Later Astrid finds a bright white spheroid and shows it to her friends, the same one now inside the Clean Room.
|Spark does his thing.|
Spark finally heals Astrid, but at great cost to himself as he is very weak. Astrid thanks Spark, then orders 60,000 volts be run through him which leaves him a smear on the floor of the Clean Room. Astrid asks for some tea and clothes, "I've decided to go on holiday."
We then return to the old men in Texas. One of them starts changing into a gimp mask and is naked apart from that and an apron. Their company started with the "idea of selling healthy products to a nation that didn't know they wanted them". The reason he is getting pervily dressed up is to deal with a couple whose sales quotas have been missed. They are naked and strung out on a rack as the man, Reston Wenuka, says "welcome to the Dark Room my friends".
Up in the mountains of Colarado, Capone gets out of a car and stumbles through the snow finding Astrid sitting outside a lodge quietly contemplating the scenery. She says to Capone she isn't going back, "I've given quite enough don't you think?"
Astrid: "Do you know what the worst thing in the entire world is. The worst curse you can inflict on any human being. The very worst thing? Seeing the world as it actually is."
Back in Florida Chloe is trying to get ahold of Astrid. She believes Spark isn't dead and they have him. She says she never forgive Astrid for caging him in the "shitty room". She has also been doing some research into Astrid's company and Avil tells her he knows two of the properties and they are empty.
Inside the Clean Room, poor Spark is still alive and being zapped in a laser cage. He is being interrogated, what the nature of his species is, what invasion plans they have. Spark just whimpers, "Chloe... help Spark." The interrogators shock him again, "cook this demon piece of shit".
Capone sits with Astrid and asks her how much of the mountain she owns. Capone goes on to say she lived on a cardboard sheet behind a dumpster. It was Astrid's message that told her she didn't have to live that life. She told her taking care of yourself was job one. She goes on to say, "You never apologise. You never let anyone else's horsehit stick to you. Where is that woman?" Astrid says that woman was shot through the heart by her brother and now can't crawl out from behind that dumpster.
|Gifts from Astrids organisation.|
Killian and Duncan are watching Wenuka on the news, Killian grimly says he's going to worm his way in and destroy everything she built. What would Astrid do she wonders. Duncan says she'd fight back.
Duncan: "She'd bite and scratch and kick. She'd hit his groin with a flamethrower. She'd demolish him Killian".
Killian gives him a hug then sends him home to get some sleep, tommorrow they'll start fighting back. As Duncan leaves, Killian orders a search into any dirt they can find on Menuka. Duncan returns home and gets into bed with his boyfriend.
Later Duncan is woken up by the Surgeon. Duncan says he fed him info once but he won't let him take down Astrid. But the Surgeon won't take no for an answer and shows him what he did to the last man who rejected him, he turned him into a half human hybrid "Pony man". He knows he can't get results threatening Duncan directly but his partner, now that's a different story.
Killian is rallying a defence against Wenuka. Duncan is preoccupied but will look into finding out who in Astrid's organisation might be vulnerable to blackmail. Then Chloe arrives. She comes out and tells Killian her "very dead fiancee... has been showing up at unexpected times" He's not haunting her but warning her.
Wenuka is chairing a special meeting of Astrid's foundation board members. He tells them, "if your beloved Ms. Mueller goes psycho, my friends,, who in this group will piss in your followers mouths and tell them it's lemonade?" One of them saying her taking some time to recover doesn't make her a runaway. Wenuka says he admires the loyalty, but their ship is sinking "and I don't think any of you boys got the dick to paddle."
Back with Chloe and Killian they are suited up to go into the Clean Room because her dead fiancee has told her bad things are happening in there. Spark is still in there all caged up, Killian sends the others away. Meanwhile, the news Capone passed onto Astrid has caused her to admit to Capone she was testing her. One of her "Rooks" has been leaking information, then suddenly Capone pushes Astrid to the ground.
Duncan shoots Spark, apologising again saying, "they got me... they'll get you too." Spark tells Chloe he is dying, he tells Chloe she has the power to move the room "anywhere, any-when". She needs to concentrate on Duncan's pain, Chloe says she can't do it. "Then we all die" says Spark. Killian and Duncan start fist fighting. Chloe tells Spark they need his darkness back so Spark conjures up a weird bio-mechanical being which slices off Duncan's hand. Chloe tells Spark to call it off, but Spark grins evilly and says "don't think Spark wants to."
We get another flashback to Astrid twenty-three years ago. She is in therapy for stabbing her father who is now in a coma. She tells her therapist she believed her father to be possessed by a demon, who ate his essence, sent him to hell and rides his shell like a toddler rides a bicycle. Her therapist says they will discuss this more next session.
|A monster unleashed.|
Killian is trying to fend off the bio-mech monster, things are looking bad when Chloe's eyes suddenly roll back and the enviroment inside the room changes. But they aren't in Duncan's memory, they are in Sparks. He doesn't want to be here but they go through the church door to where the girl is tied to a bed and being exorcised.
|Spark's dark secret.|
Chloe: "I never believed in sin. I never believed in repentance. But Jesus Killian. What if it's all true?"
At the board meeting Weknuka yells at Brother Pete to shut the feed down. She retaliates by firing the entire board. She then asks him how a "mediocre little deviant medicine show carnie" got into a postion to challenge her.
She tells him events conspiring to favour him wasn't an accident, and also the loyal soldier at his side isn't what he thinks. Now that he's failed "they" won't want him to be chatty, and Brother Pete turn into a monster and rips Wenuka's head off.
Back in the Clean Room the bio-mech is inert. Killian is about to shoot Spark, but Chloe pleads with him to repair Duncan, "Spark is good boy" he says and does so. Then the three of them leave, Killian tells security that Duncan was hypnotised by their enemies. Capone and Astrid discuss what happened. Capone asked why she didn't take Wenuka out sooner.
Astrid: "The conspiracy you know about is always better than the one you do not".
She then tasks Capone with fetching Todd's wife and to make it look like terrorists got her. Capone says she'll enjoy that. Astrid then calls more of her people at her brother's home. They have found the baby and say it looks normal, but when Astrid looks at it via one one of their smartphones she sees a horrific monster. End of volume two.