Image Comics Review: THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH #3
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Martin Simmonds
Colours: Martin Simmonds
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
The Department of Truth #3: Mary never knew what “false flag” or “crisis actor” meant, until her son was murdered in a mass shooting, and the threats and accusations began. But as her reality starts to bend around her, it’s the job of the Department of Truth to keep these dark conspiracies from coming true…at any cost.
James Tynion IV has established a world in human belief can reshape reality. Tynion’s protagonist, Cole Turner, has been discovering the implications of Truth being malleable. Sometimes it is astounding – Cole sees the edge of the world brought into being by believers in a flat Earth. Sometimes horrifying – Cole’s fake memories of being victimized by Satanists becomes real. And sometime it’s amusing – he learns that the Department occasionally has to deal with Santa Claus.
But this issue reveals how it can lead to heartbreaking tragedy. In The Department of Truth #3, we meet Mary, the mother of a child killed in a school shooting. This in itself is tragic, but things get worse when she learns that there are those who think the shooting was staged as part of the government’s plan to take away their guns. And that her son was a “crisis actor”, merely playing the part of a victim.
It’s bad enough that people exist in the real world, but in Tynion’s world, their belief makes their conspiracy theory into fact. Mary receives a recording of her son being coached to play the role of a shooting victim. This undermines Mary’s reality, leading her to believe that her son is still alive somewhere, and that the government is keeping him hidden from her.
Cole and his partner are dispatched to deal with the situation, but Cole is disheartened to learn that all they can do is destroy the physical evidence. They can’t do anything to help Mary. All they can do is to leave her to her delusions, which doesn’t sit well with Cole. He is told, “she’ll spend the rest of her life believing that agents of George Soros took away the only proof that he son was alive. But without that proof, everyone will just think she’s crazy”.
Cole is rapidly learning that while the Department may be keeping the world safe, that doesn’t mean they can do much to for people on an individual level. This puts the role Cole has accepted as an agent of the Department in a depressing light. As his partner explains, “This isn’t a clean job, Cole. It’s ugly. Because people are ugly, and they can believe terrible, ugly things”.
While The Department of Truth is a title that doesn’t easily slot into a single genre, I am starting to believe that at it’s core, it’s a horror story. And horror stories seldom have happy endings.
I have to again commend the artwork of Martin Simmonds. I have stated before that his rather abstract style is perfectly suited to depict a world where reality isn’t clearly defined. And it also beautifully conveys the emotional tone of the story. I especially loved the final sequence where Mary’s depiction becomes more abstract in each successive panel as she falls into madness. And that final panel conveys her fractured psyche in an image that is chilling.
This issue was damn near perfect. ‘Nuff said!
The Department of Truth #3 was Tynion’s best issue yet. This series just keeps getting better and better – it’s like nothing I’ve ever read before. Tynion’s The Department of Truth is well on its way to becoming an all-time classic comic saga.