Continuing his current purple patch of great collaborations, The Department of Truth is the new book from Martin Simmonds (Dying Is Easy, Death Sentence Liberty) that sees him join forces with Batman scribe James Tynion IV to bring us a dark look at the world of conspiracy theories and mysterious government agencies.
We’ve been asked by the powers-that-be not to give away too many spoilers on this one and so we’ll do our best by telling you it’s an X Files style deep dive into the world of conspiracy theories and alternate truths. Agent Cole Turner gets a bit more than he bargains for when he goes to a flat earth society shindig and ends up encountering a new way of looking at the world, as well as mysterious woman in red – and that’s all you’re getting!
While it is easy and lazy to compare it to the X files, it has a lot of tonal similarities. Fortunately a lot of water has gone under the bridge since Mulder and Scullly first started snooping around and in the current global climate Department of Truth is a much needed 21st century take on the mysterious government agency concept. Tynion creates a really layered and complex world, packed full of intriguing ideas and unique perspectives on established ideas – plus a couple of great reveals. While we can’t say much more, a the core of the book is the idea of what the truth really is, and so in the world of ‘post-truth’ and ‘alternative facts’ there is plenty of room for this story to grow. It definitely feels like we are only just getting warmed up by the end of this first issue and there is a hell of a lot to reveal in the coming issues!
Meanwhile Simmonds artwork has gone to new heights with this one. While his work on Dying Is Easy revelled in the intimacy of sweaty small comedy clubs, this has a much more cinematic quality to it, capturing the taught twists and turns of the conspiracy like a politico thriller. But also has a real grandioseness to it in some of the later scenes which we can’t talk about. It also has a really grungey feel to it, reminding us a lot of early Hellblazer comics with Simmonds using an almost air-brushed finish and a superb mix of distorted styles and textures to really make this into something really stylish – but also rough and DIY at the same time. (He has also created one of this year’s most iconic characters in the mysterious red dress wearing femme fatale, but you’ll have to read it to find out why!) He is ably assisted by some stunning lettering from Aditya Bidikar whose distorted speech bubbles give everything a really unique feel. (And compliment the awesome cut and paste design of Dylan Todd).
All in all, this is a superb first issue, which is heading like a rocket to go-knows-where – which is both really exciting and also a little unnerving. Needless to say with the calibre of talent on board this won’t require much investigation from new readers to learn the truth about why it’s so damn good.