The Department of Truth is one of the most important comics coming out today. In a world where conspiracy theories run rampant and people refuse to believe facts, a series like this one shines a light on the dangers of people who live on the fringe. The impact of their crazy ideas is felt in real life as it is, but in The Department of Truth, their power is revealed to have reality-altering implications. So far, the series has tackled flat-earthers and the Satanic Panic of the ’80s. In the latest issue, a much later conspiracy theory comes into focus.
While previous issues have delved into the mindset of groupthink taking over people’s minds, the reverse happens in The Department of Truth #3. In this latest issue, writer James Tynion IV and artist Martin Simmonds explore the hostility a mother must endure from people who believe a school shooting was faked. Her son is dead, but fringe idiots on the internet are sure her kid was an actor and she was a plant. It’s a very real conspiracy theory likely drawn from Alex Jones’ insistence that the Sandy Hook shooting was fake. This issue shows how versatile the premise of this series is as it explores how a conspiracy theory can affect a single person from a group of believers.
Mixed in with the main narrative’s mother figure are ideas about navigating truth with so many voices screaming out from the internet. There are also new details unveiled in regards to the main opposing figure to the Department of Truth which helps keep a single narrative thread from the first issue through this one. Tynion and Simmonds also continue to develop the main character and his newness to the department. There are police procedural vibes to the narrative too, which should delight fans of that genre.
Simmonds continues to do exceptional work with much of his haunting imagery coming through via a CRT-TV effect. The opening page (see above) features a screaming pundit slightly askew to the pieces of his face and a mirror effect going on that creates a sense of discord and unease. Seen throughout the issue, these visages of the horrific monster on TV become eviler and eviler. There is also a political element to this issue which isn’t quite there in the captions but is intensely visible in the art. Simmonds weaves in the American flag and another iconography to convey the truly twisted nature of gun-loving culture in America.
Compared to the exceptional previous two issues, this issue feels a bit off, possibly because it focuses on the mother so much. Plotting wise, we hang with her for so long we lose sight of the department figures and their narrative. Considering where we left off the last issue it’s a bit jarring to not start with them. Instead, we’re dropping into this woman’s hell. As an episodic series, it makes some sense, but it loses the tether of the main characters until it picks back up with them later in the issue.
The Department of Truth #3 is a great example of how strong the premise of this series is and the infinite possibilities we’ve yet to see three issues in. The creative team is on fire, delving into new conspiracy theories on each issue and showing how evil lurks amongst us. Given a supernatural push, The Department of Truth turns the horrors of fringe conspiracy theorists into the scariest things imaginable.
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