The Department of Truth #17 ADVANCE REVIEW: story with innovative art & a seductively sinister heart
Writer: James Tynion IV, Artist: Jorge Fornés, Colorist: Jordie Bellaire, Letterer: Aditya Bidikar, Designer: Dylan Todd, Editor: Steve Foxe.
Reading The Department of Truth has proven to be a hallucinogenic trip through folklore and conspiracy, a statement I consider a high compliment. The thing is, every trip has a destination and I believe we are nearing our next stop in this series. Primarily following Cole Turner as a new operative in the world of mythological-management, Image Comics' The Department of Truth let us enter a new world alongside our protagonist. Everything is dangerous and just beyond our understanding, but a thread's been pulled. Now my curiosity demands to know how much thread comprises this phantasmagorical darkness. This week's The Department of Truth #17 shows us just how big this tapestry may be. This week, The Department of Truth, with the help of the Nixon administration, goes on a trip to the Moon.
I was immediately drawn into The Department of Truth #17 through the art. This issue marks a drastic (though not negative) departure from the usual thematically abstract illustrations I'd grown used to. Jorge Fornes grounds this issue with harsh, even brutal linework. Every face is given remarkable depth of expression but they also carry a certain somberness emphasized by those bold lines. Then Jordie Bellaire's colors walk in and discombobulate me with a one-two combo to the face.
A detail I really enjoy is the incompleteness of the color in most cases. Grainy white gaps are missing anywhere you look, except for when the color black is used. Only black is saturated fully, lending a hardness to each scene, or maybe moreso a sense of temporal isolation. We are witnessing moments that are so pivotal that they exist alone in their importance. Occasional blue palettes bolster the aforementioned somberness of the art, this being one example of many to merit applause for Fornes and Bellaire's teamwork.
Tynion's writing, paired with Bidikar’s lettering, fill the characters with life. Interactions in this issue are terse, clipped even. Tension permeates the narrative as the famous moon landing conspiracy is addressed with dark implications for the series. The overall narrative Tynion is creating often keeps me up at night as I speculate wildly about the next piece of the puzzle. Then I pick up the next issue and experience the same thing all over again. Rinse, repeat. The Department of Truth #17, as a conclusion to the series' third story arc, is a larger piece to an even larger picture that is paced so well as to instill intimacy in issues that may span all of human civilization. There's something seductively sinister at the heart of The Department of Truth and this creative team seems ready and able to poke it with a stick until it wakes up and weaponizes existential terror.
I hope my words have helped you want to read The Department of Truth. Aside from displaying fresh and innovative artistic talent ISSUE AFTER ISSUE, this series also has a damn good story. Though the world seems big, the characters many, and the shadows deep, this creative team will comfort you with moments of unexpected empathy and intimacy. I hope you decide to give it a shot. The Department of Truth #17 arrives at YOUR LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP (or Image Comics' website) Wednesday, March 23rd.
Per usual, I'm going to recommend any and all readers to pick up Something is Killing the Children. This title made me sell my soul in devotion to Tynion IV and I have no regrets so you should pick it up from Boom! Studios. I also recommend the Marvel trade paperback of Vision (written by Tom King). Jordie Bellaire's haunting colors enrich every page so check it out on Amazon. Lastly, go grab Rorschach to fulfill all your unknown dreams of seeing more Jorge Fornes art.
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.