The Department of Truth #16 ADVANCE REVIEW: a psychedelic trip thru the '70s with sinister overtones

Writer: James Tynion IV, Artist: Alison Sampson, Colorist: Jordie Bellaire, Letterer: Aditya Bidikar, Designer: Dylan Todd, Editor: Steve Foxe.

Cover by Martin Simmonds

The Department of Truth from Image Comics has been a showcase of innovative talent and world building to this point. The Department of Truth investigates and curbs manifestations of collective consciousness, or tulpas. If enough people believe in Bigfoot, then BOOM, we suddenly got ourselves a Bigfoot. This series is close to my heart for its ability to tell a story based on Bigfoot through the lens of an everyday person plagued by pain and human sorrows, as well as unbridled joy and hope. The scope of the narrative never overshadows the human aspect. The Department of Truth #16 keeps on keepin' on with the same approach, while giving us a glimpse of the sinister implications underlying the organization we've never quite come to trust.

Juxtaposed psychedelic visuals and Vietnam-era soldiers encapsulates the turmoil contextualizing this issue.

The fifth narrative deviation since we joined our usual protagonist, Cole, this issue boasts a psychedelic guest artist in Alison Sampson. The '70s aesthetic and drug-fueled hallucinations are given vivid detail, illustrations warping into gnarled figments of LSD-founded visuals. Compounded with Bellaire's saturated and richly delirious colors, each page is a kaleidoscopic wonderland of sinister imagination.

The linework gives uncertain definition to these abstracts, grounding the reader while still imposing the erratic visuals of the mind. Each panel seems overlaid with perfectly curated lines that, while normally inclined to guide the reader, here droop and melt across the scene in a lava lamp of story.

The creativity with the smoke effects is beautiful, and that's not me blowing smoke.

Tynion's writing hasn't stopped impressing me. An issue of hallucinated revelations still feels grounded and comprehensible in a perpetually complex and growing series. Perceived villains have my understanding and empathy while connections to our modern world cultivate intense fear. Bidikar’s lettering further immerses the reader in character voices and trippy expressions of dialogue. The qualities together drag the reader, kicking and screaming, into a dark forest of which there's no conception.

The lines and colors drift wantonly, creating a "melting" effect like that experienced by my brain after reading.

You MUST read this series. I wouldn't advise starting here, but a solid #1 would be a great beginning. Check out Volume One of The Department of Truth here! Then pick this book up when it drops Wednesday, February 23 from your LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP, the Image Comics website, or at the very least Comixology.

Then go read SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN!!!! NOW! I promise you there will be no regret. While you're at it, I HIGHLY recommend such titles as Daytripper and Heaven No Hell if you're hankering for some more psychedelically human stories.


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.

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