Writer: James Tynion IV; Artist: David Romero; Letterer: Aditya Bidikar; Designer: Dylan Todd; Editor: Steve Foxe.
Get in your bunkers and put on your tinfoil hats, everyone, because this week The Department of Truth #15 from Image Comics begins diving into the Department itself. With a different narrative format and new artist, this issue gets to work with more world building (yay Mothman!), while laying the groundwork for something bigger on the horizon. The Department of Truth, for those just tuning in, is a secret organization that . . . “handles” manifestations of intense belief: these are tulpas. Beyond that, the Department seeks to maintain a balance, a status quo. This all sounds well and good, but then there’s the nagging question that haunts the depths of imagination: Who gets to decide the “status quo”?
This issue’s format resembles a top secret dossier covering a debriefing in the Department. Some responses and questions are redacted. Small photos are paperclipped to the transcripts. This is honestly where Bidikar’s lettering works its magic. This title constantly plays with narrative presentation and the lettering keeps pace each and every time. As if stamped out on a typewriter, the letters are unevenly inked and flawed, which lends authenticity to this “government document”. I was enthralled immediately by the attention to detail and downright enthusiasm of work that I see in the varied lettering.
David Romero joins this issue with some amazing art. This particular issue creates a lot of division between art and prose in keeping with the dossier-esque format, but I didn’t mind because Romero’s art is often given entire pages to breathe. The art is haunting and malevolent, implying far darker secrets than are revealed to us in these pages. There is at once a realism and dreaminess to the illustrations that contrasts the very methodical “file” format; this captures the spirit of the overall title, as myth and reality blur to the tune of human belief. One particular grin —yes I said grin— will lurk in my nightmares for many moons to come.
Writer Tynion IV is obviously nailing it, though I am getting rather impatient with the slower pace overall. A lot of world building is taking place, which is phenomenal at its core. However, I feel bogged down every now and then, as I scramble to remember key story details or character names when they are brought back from a four issue absence. I have faith that this team will blow our collective minds, but I wish we could start focusing the narrative. I’m too impatient and I need to know all the secrets. Other than this whining (on my part), Tynion excels at letting the reader fill in the gaps with his “show don’t tell” approach. The story is only as dark as the reader let's it become.
I really really really want you all to read this title. It's a slow build but when it ramps up, it RAMPS UP. Pick it up from YOUR LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP (or Image Comics directly) when it releases January 12th! If you'd like to go down some similar rabbit holes to this (Tynion IV style), check out:
For more fare in the way of myths, folklore, and good ol' conspiracies, go shove your nose into these:
'Til next time, comics fans! . . . *imagine me waving
Austin Kemp read Batman #315 (Batman vs Kite Man) when he was 5 years old, and hasn't stopped reading comics since. Austin is a college writing teacher and has a masters degree in Comics Studies. Austin and his partner, Savanah, live in Massachusetts with their master, a cat named Chaplin.