• Dept. H #15

    Dept. H #15
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: June 21st, 2017.
    Written by: Matt Kindt
    Illustrated by: Matt Kindt, Sharlene Kindt
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    Mia and the others in the escape sub are heading towards the cave but coming in ‘hot’ though – the oxygen mix is off, too much helium. The rest of the crew, already in the cave, are dealing with a CO2 issue and trying not to asphyxiate. Aaron’s behavior is starting to get strange through – he’s not interested in putting his diving suit on, he says this is where they ‘need to be’ and wants them to go further into the caves. Lily isn’t doing much better, muttering to herself about letting them take the weakest and trying to take Raj out with a rock. Mia, Q and the rest hear the struggle over the radio.

    Mia flashes back to her love affair with Alain, the time they spent together in Paris where she told him she was done, not going back, that she hated the water. He supported her decision and hoped she’d stay in Paris with him, but she’d already decided to take a position doing forensics work for Scotland Yard. From there we see her during her time in London, investigating the attempted murder of a courier who leaked contagion formulas to enemy agencies. Does this tie into her last case, the poisoning of a Russian scientist? She stays in touch with Alain who heads to Australia to work with Blake. He’s crazy but he’s rich and can fund their work. He invites her to visit in Australia and eventually she does, much to Alain’s surprise. Given that it was just that – a surprise – Mia’s only semi taken aback by the evidence in Alain’s room, Lily’s necklace in particular. But there are bigger issues, for Mia at least – she’s upset that Blake is funding her father’s oceanic expedition when she feels he should be going back to finish his work in space.

    These memories, and a lot of others, play over in Mia’s head as the descent continues. She realizes that after all this time these motivations and ‘friends’ were her father’s, not hers. Everything leading up to the knowledge of her father’s death plays out before her like a surrealist film causing her to seriously question just what it is she’s been doing all this time.

    The story this time, in a lot of ways, cleverly brings Mia’s tale full circle. We learn more about her background and her relationships with the different supporting characters in this single issue than in the fourteen that came before it. At the same time, Kindt’s writing still manages to further the plot. The flashbacks make up the bulk of the pages here but it never slows things down – the characters are still in very serious peril and there’s no doubt that the next issue will expand on that a great deal. But the focus of the story has always been Mia and through these pages we gain a further understanding of her motivations, her issues, why she deals with people the way she does and the trust issues that play a big part in her actions. From a psychological perspective, this is pretty fascinating stuff.

    As to how it plays out on an artistic front, Matt Kindt again scores top marks, though credit where it’s due – Sharlene Kindt’s coloring work in this issue is even more beautiful than usual. The pages showing the work being done in the space station are suitable for framing in and display in a gallery while the decision to have many of the flashbacks play out as a series of photographs arranged in a very specific order not only helps with the flow but it makes for some really creative layout work. Every page of this issue is gorgeous and the artwork really does make an already gripping storyline even more engaging.
    Dept. H continues to be one of the most strikingly original and addictive comic books on the stands these days. Don’t miss out.

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