Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artwork: Martin Simmonds
Lettering: Aditya Bidikar
Release Date: 25th August 2021
Cole has survived the ordeal of his first Big Foot hunt, but is still stuck in Denver with Hawk. Having pieced together the computers from Denver, Ruby and Lee are faced with an apparently insurmountable challenge to limit the spread of Black Hat’s influence. Hawk’s seemingly random and obtuse lessons in the history of the Department of Truth take shape, and his true motivations soon become shockingly clear.
Every time I think I’ve got a handle on this series, I get hit by another curve ball, and I find myself going back through previous issues looking for things I might have missed. Some people might find this frustrating but I genuinely think this is one of the hallmarks of a truly great comic series. Any story that makes you want to go back and look for hidden meanings, or where current events make you reevaluate earlier encounters and interactions, is something to be applauded and cherished.
There is absolutely nothing that I could criticise in any one of the twelve issues we’ve had so far. The story is compelling, it’s thrilling, it’s thought provoking and it is constantly shifting and shaping your perception of what is going on, to the point where you’re not quite sure whose narrative is the real one. Which I guess is the whole point of the Department of Truth, both as the shadowy organisation and the creation of James Tynion IV. I’ve got to the point over the last couple of years where I don’t even bother asking questions anymore, if I see James Tynion IV’s name written on the front cover then I just buy the comic, and so far I have not been led astray by this resolution.
Martin Simmonds’ artwork is pitch perfect on every panel of every page. As the story has progressed we’ve seen a number of style changes to suit the perspective of the narrative that is being told at that point, so the cartoony flashback to Cole’s childhood here is perfectly in-keeping. It’s also really interesting to see that Cole is not drawn in this style, but as you’d expect to see him, which makes the denouement of this particular scene much more powerful. And while we’re talking about that scene, when you get to that final image, just WOW, Simmonds is a straight up genius.
Simmonds is also one of those artists who I’ve long since added to my list of “buy it without question” names. He produces artwork that absolutely staggers me with its creativity in the same way that Ben Templesmith did with 30 Days of Night, or Jock did with Wytches, or more recently Anand RK did with Blue In Green. I can’t hand on heart say that I have an artistic “type”, those who read my reviews regularly or see my activity on Twitter will know I’ve got very wide and varied tastes in what I read, but there’s something about the artwork that the aforementioned artists produce that speaks to me every time I turn the pages.
I’ve read some truly brilliant comics this year, but Department of Truth is sitting right at the very top of that list. And with four months left of the year, it’s going to take something very, very special to knock it off first place.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek