• Dept. H #14



    Dept. H #14
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: May 24th, 2017.
    Written by: Matt Kindt
    Illustrated by: Matt Kindt, Sharlene Kindt
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    In the water above the base a school of sharks feed no one of their own. A feeding frenzy breaks out and the unlucky shark who made a meal for the rest of them falls to the bottom of the ocean, little more than a skeleton once the others are done with him.

    In the base nearby, Q tries to figure out if they’ve got enough power left to pump air and move the ship – they don’t. They can do one or the other but not both, which does not bode well for he and the other four on board. One of them is going to have to stay behind, Roger volunteers. As they argue about it, Jerome suits up and locks himself in the flooded area nearby, essentially making the argument null and void. He’s going to do this. As he floats about, enough air in his suit for an hour, he tells Mia of his epiphany…

    Flashback to India where a conference is being held where various medical and scientific experts are attending a presentation being given by Hari, Mia’s late father. This is where Jerome met the man for the first time. We learn how their mutual passion for science and understanding led to a fast friendship. Hari gave Jerome a job, introduced him to Philip, one of his most important financial backers, who wanted to bounce some ideas off of him. It was during this conversation with Philip, where they discussed parallel universes and string theory, that Jerome realized he was just as insane as Philip was. From there, Hari introduced Jerome to Blake, a man that literally had everything and as such was sort of a living experiment. They discuss virus’, possible cures for them and how Blake believed that eventually mankind would have to go to space to escape the fatal germs on Earth. It doesn’t go well. Philip liked Jerome but Blake didn’t, he objected to his social awkwardness and Blake threatened to withdraw funding for Hari’s space project if Jerome went along. As such, Jerome was left behind.

    When they came back from this specific mission, Hari cut Blake loose and reconnected with Jerome. Dept. H was rebuilt just as contagion races started breaking out. Jerome’s skills were needed now more than ever and he was eventually coerced into working as a spy, coming to see the contagion races as a way to both punish society and love it. Eventually, through his work and his insanity, Jerome wound up in the state that he’s currently in, feeling as if jellyfish are communicating with him…

    The most intense issue yet? It’s trippy, strange, almost psychedelic in a way, but at the same time completely fitting for where the story has been going in the last few issues. What started out as a simple murder mystery at the bottom of the ocean floor has, over the last few issues, turned into something much deeper, headier and weird. Through the characters in this story, Kindt is not just weaving a yarn or relocating a ‘whodunnit’ into an interesting location. The story explores man’s role in the world, the good and the bad that humanity is responsible for, our relationship with the world around us and or attempts to understand it. It’s all done with such reverence, care and attention to detail that you can’t help but get wrapped up in it. The artwork, with wonderful coloring from Sharlene Kindt, reflects this as well. There are specific panels in every issue that really catch your eye but this installment in particular really has a unique look to it. The angles, the detail in the backgrounds, the creature design and of course the human element are all rendered beautifully, suiting the odd tone of the compelling story perfectly.

    Oh, and we also learn that E.B.I.R.A.H. (Experimental Bathosphere Investigation & Research Applied to Hazards) is the Japanese answer to Dept. H. This happens on the first page and will likely come into play at some point down the road? Guess we’ll find out. A sketch page showing some of Kindt’s conceptual art and a letters page are also included. All in all, another amazing issue of one of the most fascinating, bizarre and suspenseful comics currently on the racks.