Writer: James Tynion IV; Artist: Martin Simmonds; Letterer: Aditya Bidikar; Designer: Dylan Todd; Editor: Steve Foxe.
Cole Turner has been to the edge of the world on a private plane. Cole Turner has wandered through the woods in hunt of Bigfoot. Cole Turner has murdered. All this at the behest of The Department of Truth and in service of . . . what, exactly? In the beginning, Cole was brought in to the department to find and expunge tulpas, beliefs held so powerfully they become tangibly real; tulpas threaten the core "truth", the way things are. Cole has learned a lot since then, done a lot since then, and now he isn't quite sure anyone has a monopoly on the truth. This week, The Department of Truth #19 from Image Comics pulls back the curtain on Cole's mind and shows us just frail the "truth" can really be.
The Department of Truth creates its magic in the sweet spot between the abstract and reality. Tynion's writing style caters to this balancing act perfectly by contextualizing the absurdity of the book's premise within real and relatable emotions. Childhood demons and trauma are relatable and all too real, but though Cole's demons are a bit more literal, these loose connections are made stronger through Tynion's focus on creating bigger narratives with meticulously curated pieces. This issue does falter a bit in terms of pacing. It feels as though a fuse was lit many issues ago, some big narrative event seemingly looming on the horizon, but the fuse just burns, and burns, and burns, and burns. The end of this issue points to an end for this tedious, impatient foot-tapping that marks my wait for the next story point... but I've been fooled before.
Martin Simmonds challenges my perception with every turn of the page. His aesthetic is keen to depict the concrete realness of the ideas and beliefs we carry around with us. A few pages this week had me on the edge of my seat with their emotional impact. Simmonds' depth of character's faces complements Tynion's character-focused style of writing, and thus creates a hazy reality for the reader to exist in only while the book is open in your hand.
The Department of Truth #19 is not the best this series has to offer. The continuation of a narrative lull that's gone on two issues too long, this week's issue is still rife with talent and flare; I'm no less excited for the next issue but I'd like to see more direction. Granted, I could read the next issue and consider myself a fool, so take me with a grain of salt... but a slow pace, after a while, starts to resemble wandering. I look forward to being proven a fool but until then I give The Department of Truth #19 4 out of 5 POPs!
Be sure to pick it up from YOUR LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP or the Image Comics website (here) when it's released on June 29th! For more from this creative team, check out my RECOMMENDED READING suggestions below.
If you like horror, Tynion, and abattoir levels of mad violence, look no further than House of Slaughter.
Perhaps you much prefer the intensive character work and oddity of this series, in which case you may want to check out The Woods.
Tynion and editor Steve Foxe created a radical display of horrific talent in Razorblades, Vol. 1, a book available and begging for pre-order.
If Simmonds' art is the avenue you're interested in pursuing (with a bit of spooky), check out Dying is Easy, a collaboration between Martin Simmonds and Joe Hill!
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.