• Dept. H #13

    Dept. H #13
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: April 19th, 2017.
    Written by: Matt Kindt
    Illustrated by: Matt Kindt, Sharlene Kindt
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    With everyone in the base essentially quarantined, chaos is erupting – lots of fighting between crewmembers. Mia is starting to think that everyone is conspiring against her, that they’re all trying to stop her from going through the evidence and uncovering the truth behind her father’s death. She’s going through it all in her head – the weapons, the pills at the scene, the wounds on her father and then WAKE UP!

    Raj tells her that Aaron didn’t kill Jerome after all, that he’s still alive, still down there with them and making a big mess out of everything he can. He tells her that Alain and the surface team are right, that they’ve been exposed to something, a contagion. Raj needs help from the others in controlling Jerome. Roger, Q and Mia head towards Raj, bickering about the situation along the way. Roger keeps the lines of communication open with the others in the sub, the other remote sub still watching them.

    Those on the sub take out the remote sub, removing its ‘eyes’ and cutting out the surveillance. They don’t have enough power left in the sub to surface, so they cut the lights and go quiet, heading carefully to the ocean’s floor. They head through the boneyard, past a giant squid and into that cave – at least there’s oxygen there. Eventually Mia and her team reach Aaron and Jerome, who is babbling about jellyfish and how their electrical fields work to lure large prey like a whale to the giant squid, the jellyfish benefiting from being able to eat the smaller fish the in turn feed off of the whale. The sea spiders in turn pull the scraps from the floor into the cave where their master, a turtle that has grown so big it can’t leave the cave, lies.

    We flashback to when Mia met Alain for the first time when he was working for his dad, right after she lost her mother. Hari talks to Blake at the same time, he needs a break from all of this – not the work, the water. That’s when he decided to go into space. Mia and Alain get involved romantically once she comes back from the space exploration mission, but then she leaves Paris for London to do forensics work. But back in the present? The base is collapsing, they’re running out of time.

    This issue is a wonderful mix of deep character development and weird science. It’s as much to do with the cycle of life that we see that jellyfish coordinate as it is with Mia’s predicament, but Kindt opens our eyes to plenty of that as well. They mystery continues to unfold but so too does it seem to be tying into Mia’s own past, her relationship with not only those on the base but those on the surface too – Alain in particular. Where it’ll go from here, only Matt Kindt knows for sure but it the first thirteen issues of this series have been anything to go by, it’ll be a fascinating, tense and exciting journey. It’s interesting how the series tends to explore Mia’s memories, some of which seem to be fairly repressed for whatever reason. As she’s going about trying to solve the mystery of her father’s death a lot of long forgotten instances from her past seem to bubble up to the surface – this happens a lot in the series – are these clues or just a way for us to get to know the comic’s central character better? It’s probably a mix of both. It’s really compelling stuff, a joy to read, and just as much of a joy to look at. There’s a full page piece in this issue where we see the giant squid take on the whale lured down by the jellyfish that is guaranteed to make you stop and stare, just to take in all of the insane detail and design work that Kindt has worked in her. It’s the stand out page of the issue for sure, but hardly the only one that’ll draw you in. Kindt’s sketchbook style is complemented perfectly by Sharlene Kindt’s coloring work, a sometimes soft, almost pastel style that really helps to bring out the line work and breathe life into the pages.

    I’ll stop now. I’m gushing, but damn, if there’s one book worth gushing over, it’s Dept. H. It’s unlike anything else on the racks today, a genuine ‘must read’ series.