Writer: James Tynion IV; Artist: Martin Simmonds; Letterer: Aditya Bidikar; Designer: Dylan Todd; Editor: Steve Foxe.
The Department of Truth #18 returns to Cole Turner as an every-shifting idea of "the truth" threatens our protagonist's hold on trust, identity, and reality itself.
The Department of Truth from Image Comics is founded on an understandable enough premise: Cole Turner is brought into The Department of Truth, an organization centered solely on maintaining the unseen balance between truth and reality. Cole discovers that strong enough beliefs can change reality itself, necessitating the department's job of preserving the truth, or status quo; however, as the truth becomes buried in mounds of subjectivity, Cole has to start asking whose truth he's really fighting for.
Tynion, Simmonds, and Bidikar are tentative but deliberate in their approach this issue, keenly demonstrating how well this team works together. The Department of Truth #18 is satisfyingly saturated with frenetic visuals and terse writing that amounts to a tense reading experience, riddled with mistrust and dread of what's to come. The writing often feels intentionally restrained, as if each character is holding back a piece of information that would disperse all the shadowy mystery that pervades the series. Misaligned speech balloons brilliantly frame each line of dialogue as a potential deception, letting the reader decide who to trust, while whispering suspicion in your ear.
Simmond's imagery in this particular issue is quite dubious in the best possible way, meaning it radiates a certain suspicion. Light-handed line-work is geared more towards expression than representation, blurring facial features to question relationships and establish paranoia. The color usage emphasizes these ideas by utilizing stark contrasts (red/blue; black/white), and builds on the shadows growing in Cole's mind and the isolation he experiences as a consequence. Though the contrasting colors hint at a very simple good versus evil iconography, various imperfections in the coloring offer complexity. Inconsistencies, scratches, and minute paint splashes disrupt any conceivable grip on a stable reality.
If this creative team wants you to feel something, you'll feel it. Such is the creative charisma of The Department of Truth. This series uses every comics tool in its comics tool shed to full effect, curating a story that seems in as constant a flux as the reality it depicts, without losing the audience in its complexity.
Please, please, please bless your eyes with the privilege of this series. Frequently poignant and always breathtaking, The Department of Truth interrogates beliefs that we see all around us and hands a microphone to those most nihilistic of all. Pick up a copy of The Department of Truth #18 when it releases this Wednesday, May 25th!
I rate this issue 5 out of 5!
If you dig this series —and if you made it this far I'd say you do— then check out a few of these titles! It'd be super rad of you to pick these up at YOUR LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP, but I've dropped some links as well if that just isn't possible.
Catch up on this series or reread it for fun!
Tynion IV's newest limited series drops June 1st and it looks just as terrifying as you'd want it to be.
I have no other words than READ THIS.
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.