The Department of Truth #20 ADVANCE REVIEW: seeds of doubt amidst this week's major revelations

Writer: James Tynion IV; Artist: Martin Simmonds; Letterer: Aditya Bidikar; Designer: Dylan Todd; Editor: Steve Foxe.

The Department of Truth from Image Comics has not been kind to its protagonist, Cole. Each issue has followed Cole as he tumbles further and further down the rabbit hole as an agent of the Department, watching a war for reality take place with imagination and belief as its chief weapons. Cole's done many things he never thought he would, all for the Department of Truth. He's lied and he's murdered while keeping his new, shadowy life from his husband, Matty; however, this week's The Department of Truth #20 is about exactly that: truth.

Tynion's writing is splendid this issue. In his rare appearances throughout the series, Matty has been a beacon of support for Cole despite being kept in the shadows about Cole's more nefarious deeds for the "greater good". This issue brings Matty to the forefront and immediately establishes him as an emotionally dynamic character despite his previous lack of panel time. Beyond characterization, this issue is jam-packed with potentially series-upending revelations that carry the "Tynion twist" in that they always must be taken with a grain of salt. Tynion revels in uncertainty yet is talented enough to leverage this without leaving readers in confusion.

The art, as always, is rife with heavy symbolism that makes every moment hit like a heavy heartbeat. Familiar icons and symbols blend and warp into overwhelming collages of unsurety. This issue doubles down on this quality, fastballing American and fascist symbols into a whirlwind of hurried confusion and shifting realities, painted in saturated blues and reds. These bright colors hide more sinister shades of black that lurk just under the surface, insinuating what may lay on the other side of the curtain just as we are pulling it back.

The Department of Truth #20 is a feast of imagery and ominous revelations — if they are to be believed — but if your hunger for Tynion IV is not yet sated, I may have a few worthy Reading Recommendations for you. House of Slaughter, a spin-off of Boom! Studios' Something is Killing the Children, delivers on both compelling story and extravagant gore. The Nice House on the Lake from DC Comics showcases Tynion's ability to focus on grounded characters even as a flesh-melting apocalypse looms unseen. Finally, for a healthy dose of character depth, complex emotions, and unnerving horror, pick up The Closet #1 from Image Comics.

This week's The Department of Truth #20 earns 4 POPs outta 5, but if you don't trust me, find out for yourself by picking this issue up Wednesday, August 24th, from YOUR LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP(!!!!!!) or from the Image Comics website here!


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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