• Dept. H #1

    Dept. H #1
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: April 20th, 2016.
    Written by: Matt Kindt
    Illustrated by: Matt Kindt, Sharlene Kindt
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    This new series, written and illustrated by Matt Kindt with water colors from Sharlene Kindt, starts off with a page explaining the intricacies of the H-2 Deep Dive Suit and how it will allow someone wearing it to dive down to thirty-six thousand feet for up to an hour.

    From there? We see a woman named Mia getting ready for a dive with some help from a big guy named Q. They get off of the boat and into their submarine and head down into the depths of the ocean. As they do this, Mia’s narration tells us that she’s not afraid of the descent, but she is afraid of not making it back up.

    A bit of background information – Mia works for USEAR (Underwater Science Exploration And Research), a government organization that oversaw her father’s work for years. When he passed away, his supervisor, Philip, told Mia he felt that there was a mole within the deep sea station unit, Dept. H, and that this may have had something to do with his death. Philip wants her to find out who the killer is, and though she does a decent enough job of faking it, Mia doesn’t trust him.

    Mia’s father, Doctor Hari Hardy, was responsible for creating the entire Dept. H unit but he worked with Blake Mortimer. Before the dive she visited him and he told her not to do it, stating that it was a ‘locked room mystery’ and that whoever did it won’t be going anywhere. He’d rather she run the space program he’s currently funding and she’s tempted by his offer but she needs to do this. She tells him she’ll take him up on his offer when she gets back and then walks across the compound to talk with Alain, the man who runs communications in the base of operations for Dept. H. He too tells her not to go. It’s clear there’s something between them, but again, Mia has to do this.

    When she finally makes it seven miles below the surface of the ocean to the Dept. H base on the bottom of the floor, she meets Lily, Aaron, Jerome, Bob and Roger. The first thing she wants to do is see the crime scene, her brother Raj gets her a pressure suit so she can do just that – the room has flooded, but her father’s body remains. One of the people in this base killed Hari, and Mia intends to find out who.

    What a beautiful start to an intriguing and unique story. How many underwater murder mystery comics are out there on the racks these days? Just this one. Matt Kindt’s a fantastic storyteller and a great artist and his pencils, with his wife Sharlene’s water colors over top of them, look amazing here. This is a gorgeous looking book, every panel of every page alive with quirky character and great detail. The writing is really solid too, there’s a very personal feel to Mia’s internal narration that allows us to get inside her head. This makes the story feel more real, even in this inaugural chapter we feel for her and we get to know her. The supporting characters all have their own little quirks and oddities – everyone is a suspect after all – but the focus here is on Mia more than on anyone else. It stands to reason that as the Kindt’s take us on this weird journey that the other characters will be properly explored but for now, we’re left wanting to know more about everyone involved in all of this.

    Oh, and the back pages? Matt Kindt’s text piece explains that in order to reward those who pick up the book every month rather than wait for collected editions, there will be content exclusive to each issue. Bonus art, process pages, things like that. These won’t be reprinted in the trade editions, so if stuff like that intrigues you, check this out every month instead of waiting for it to finish.

    Great stuff, really. Expectations were high going in to this based on what Kindt did with MIND MGMT and this first issue not only beat them, it surpassed them.