"Clover" omnibus by Clamp, from Dark Horse Manga.

“Clover” omnibus by Clamp, from Dark Horse Manga.

I love Clamp’s artwork, and the artwork in Clover is no exception. In fact, the artwork here is some of my favorite by them, with its clean lines and copious use of whitespace. The story itself, however, leaves a fair bit to be desired.

Kazuhiko, a young former black ops agent for the government, is pulled back into service to deliver Sue to a location she specifies. Along the way are agents from other governments who are trying to capture Sue. He doesn’t know exactly who (or what) Sue is, but he knows he must deliver her to her chosen location.

This collection is an omnibus of the four Clover manga volumes released in Japan. Between the original volumes and in a gallery at the end of this volume, Dark Horse included high quality, full color art by Clamp featuring the characters from the manga. These pictures are gorgeous, and comprise 37 pages of the over-500 page volume.

As I mentioned previously, the linework in this story is clean and very nice. Clamp can have a very delicate touch, and this story showcases their skill. Even on pages with large blocks of dark gray or black, everything feels light and uncluttered. I much prefer this style of their artwork of the much more chaotic style found in X and Tokyo Babylon.

Despite all the beautiful black and white and color artwork, the story in Clover is very thin and confusing. In their efforts to obscure the background information, Clamp also made it hard to figure out the characters and their motivations. The last two volumes collected here actually happen before the first two volumes, which adds another layer of confusion.

I would have enjoyed these sections more if parts of them had been mixed in to the first two. It would have made a more cohesive whole. Having the climax of the story in the middle just didn’t work. Sadly, we may never get the full story because Clamp just stopped producing it after the magazine in which it was running ceased publication in 1999.

If you like high-tech steampunk-ish stories with interesting technology and layers of intrigue, Clover may be a good choice for you. Just keep in mind the caveats above, and then enjoy the beautiful artwork. The artwork alone is worth reading this story. Unfortunately, it can’t elevate the quality of the story all by itself.

Release Date: June 1997 – August 1999 (Japan), May 2009 (USA)
ISBNs: 1595821961 (9781595821966)
Publisher: Dark Horse Manga
Original Publisher: Kodansha
Language: English
Original Language: Japanese
Original Title: Clover (クローバー)

MySF Rating: Three point five stars
Family Friendliness: 95%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (occasional smoking)
Language: 1 (infrequent, mild)
Nudity: 1 (mostly silhouettes, some side shots of women, some diaphanous clothing)
Sexuality: 1 (occasional innuendo, some adult themes)
Violence: 2 (battle violence, some blood, death)