If you have been sleeping on The Department of Truth, now is the time to dig in. It’s got plenty of solo conspiracy theories to explore, but a growing main story too. In fact, The Department of Truth #13 comes full circle with new revelations and reveals in regards to the main character’s role in the department and even bigger threats you won’t see coming.
This issue opens with Cole Turner realizing he’s been taken to his childhood home by Hawk Harrison. They aren’t on good terms at the moment — Cole doesn’t trust Hawk and Hawk is acting very pushy indeed — as they go down memory lane. Something about this series that works is how absorbing it can be, from its abstract artistry to the truths being laid bare in the dialogue. It can feel impenetrable at times, but once you start to get sucked in the narrative washes over you.
There are clashes in the narrative, but they’re through dialogue and hard choices. Cole doesn’t want to go where Hawk is telling him and yet he’s going without being directly threatened. Conspiracies like the Satanic Panic and tulpas come up in conversation and new details emerge. What continues to be interesting about this series is how writer James Tynion IV is exploring the history of specific conspiracy theories and their origins, which are usually based on human fear. One could read up on these at a library, but Tynion’s dialogue draws you into them in such a way that’s like a scary bedtime story.
Letters by Aditya Bidikar continue to keep all the heavy and sometimes long bits of dialogue clear and interesting. The edgy word balloons continue to break their borders and have angular corners, giving them a sharp edge as if the words themselves might sting. Font size is a key element that works well in this issue creating a sense of awe and fear. The lettering changes up in a key scene giving it a written word look that plays into what is being said. There is also fantastic emphasis when a certain monster speaks.
Martin Simmonds’ art elevates all of these words, of course, as you get visual representations of the awful ideas introduced due to fear and prejudice. There’s an excellent page of Cole and Hawk walking amongst devils and demons from the top left of the page down to the bottom. It creates a sense of movement as we learn each detail that leads to the reason why there was a Satanic Panic at all.
Many of Simmonds’ panels are washed in black splattered paint, or unnerving use of light and renderings of faces even when those faces are supposed to be normal and not monstrous. It all contributes to a dreamlike, or at times nightmarelike presence that’s hard to tear yourself away from. It also creates a sacred text feel, as if what we’re reading is absolutely true and real. Likely the details are, but even the fictitious story comes off as true too due to the art. There are multiple renderings of the Star-Faced that are not to be missed, too.
The Department of Truth #13 continues to prove this series is a modern masterpiece. The fact that its creators turn the entire main narrative upside down is amazing further cementing the fact that this is filled with surprises, truths, and the embodiment of the unnerving nature of the power of ideas.
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