At this point, if you haven’t heard of The Department of Truth you’re probably not tapped into the comic book scene. And that’s okay! The book has sold over 100,000 copies, has professionals dissecting its approach to conspiracy theories, and AIPT has given it a 10/10 score for its first issue. But let’s clear the air, and the hype, and take a look at the second issue with fair and balanced eyes. Can the second issue live up to the greatness of the first issue and the buzz people are talking about it? To sum it up succinctly: yes!
In the last issue, Cole Turner was recruited to join the Department of Truth and he learned in a fairly dramatic fashion its operation is meant to stop groupthink from creating devastating changes to our reality. He witnessed flat-earthers nearly turning our Earth flat! It’s a wild notion, which allows for each issue to dive into different conspiracy theories. In this second issue, multiple are brought up, but only one is the main interest of Cole in a new case that hits close to home.
I’ll restrain myself from spoiling, but let’s just say a certain conspiracy theory of the ’80s rears its head, which many in their late ’30s to ’40s should appreciate. James Tynion IV creates an interesting wrinkle in how this particular conspiracy theory that struck America affects Cole and this leads to a very special new evil villain being introduced. While Cole is attempting to articulate what it is we’re shown a bit more of the Department of Truth and how it works as well as get a bit of insight into his dynamic with his cohorts.
Speaking of that villain, Martin Simmonds has outdone himself with the design, creation, and technique used to make this character. There’s a mixing of different elements to make it look otherworldly and truly unreal. I know it’s early yet, but I’d argue the design of this nightmarish thing is up there with famous movie monsters like Jason and Freddy Krueger. This book is amazing to look at from panel to panel, starting with some creepy digital screens which show a small boy being interviewed. These screens have a white torn look as if aged, which eventually intercut with the monster I mentioned.
The art sets you into an unease that’s unforgiving and, if you’re into horror, addictive. The first issue was a bit more about the concept of the series while it set in a sense of dread, but in this issue, it’s going all-in with the horror aspect. The visuals are frightening, the ties to children disturbed, and the book has gone from mystery with a bit of bizarre fear to straight-up horror. It’s great stuff.
This issue is also new-reader friendly, which comes as a bit of a surprise given the complexities of the first issue. Tynion sums up where we’re at about a third through this book so if you’re unable to nab the first issue (the second printing is out November 4th) you can pretty much dive in here.
If you were looking for faults, and there are very few, you might find the ending a tad too confusing for its own good. It’s a cliffhanger to be sure, but it’s the kind that left me completely confused and unsure of what is going on. It’s hard to get hype when it’s difficult to consider what may happen next.
The Department of Truth is a series filled with possibilities, feels like it’s breaking new ground, and it’s exciting no matter the medium. You could dislike comics and still find this premise exciting. This is an innovative idea from two creators at the peak of their careers which will affect you emotionally. The sheer invention of The Department of Truth sets it apart for horror comics and comics in general.
You can pick up The Department of Truth #2 digitally this week.
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