Dept. H #12
Released by: Dark Horse Comics
Released on: March 22nd, 2017.
Written by: Matt Kindt
Illustrated by: Matt Kindt, Sharlene Kindt
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Issue twelve opens with a splash page introducing us to an ‘activist philanthropist’ named Blake Mortime. It’s done as an interview piece, like something out of a magazine. Blake talks about keeping a low profile but how he wants to raise awareness for a venture he’s funding to explore the far reaches of space and find a viable alternative to the current planet we’re all living on and that is currently plagued by the H-Virus. He also talks about his split with famed explorer Hari Hardy.
Back in the base on the floor of the ocean, Mia watches as a fight breaks out. They try to calm things down, unware that outside small submarines seem to be scurrying about. The good news? Before it all hit the fan, Jerome was onto something in his lab – a cure for the H-Virus. Aaron even posits that this is the reason that the murder that started all of this in the first place was committed. He also admits to killing Jerome himself. In Aaron’s defense, we know that Jerome was off his rocker and that he was trying to destroy his own work. Aaron did what he had to do, but Mia questions this – she figures if her dad, Hari, knew of a cure that he’d have shared it, not hidden it. After all, she says, his motives were pure.
Q tells the crew that they’ve got two working subs left, it’s time to use them to get back to the surface. Those subs, however, are in C-Branch and the corridors there are flooded. To get there, they’re all going to have to suit up and go along the exterior, the hull of the base, together. This won’t be easy with tensions running as high as they are, but soon enough they’ve made it. Unfortunately, Q notes that they don’t have enough of a charge to take more than half of the crew. Aaron, Bob and Lily take the first sub leaving Raj, Q and Mia on the second sub. Roger volunteers to stay behind. This gets Mia thinking about all of her father’s work – she doesn’t want it to just die. She decides to stay here too, this is all that’s left of Hari. Her brother Raj doesn’t feel the same way and he boards the second sub with Q.
As the first sub nears the surface we learn what those other subs that were circling the base were there for – Dept. H has been quarantined, it’s believed that they’ve all been exposed to a new strain of the H-Virus and they won’t be allowed out of the water. It’s Alain himself who notifies them of this, the fact that they’re carrying a probable cure doesn’t matter. Jerome told Alan that he’d exposed the rest in the course of his research…
Matt Kindt’s tale of murder six miles deep continues to be an engaging and gripping read. The character development continues to develop at a deliberate but effective pace, and once again we flashback with Mia to some very specific moments from her childhood that help us to better understand who she is and her connection with her late father. It might seem like a small thing but for a series as involved in her singular quest as Dept. H is, it makes a big difference when the writing is savvy enough to make sure that the reader ‘gets it.’ At the same time, Kindt’s careful not to spoon feed things to us. The mystery is unravelling to be sure, but it’s at a controlled pace and the conspiratorial elements that were seemingly sidelines in the early issues are now coming to take on a bigger part of what’s happening. It’s great stuff, and of course it’s once again illustrated in Kindt’s beautifully unorthodox style and complemented by picture perfect coloring courtesy of Sharlene Kindt.
Additionally, this twelve issue features a back page that hints at Alain’s true purpose in the story, as well as some interesting letters pages. It’s all wrapped up in a beautiful wraparound cover. If you’re not picking up this book, you really are missing out on one of the coolest and cleverest comics out there right now.