• Dept. H #16

    Dept. H #16
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: July 19th, 2017.
    Written by: Matt Kindt
    Illustrated by: Matt Kindt, Sharlene Kindt
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    As the sub putters about near the ocean floor, the big fish eats the little fish and goes about its business. They try to turn off the light on the submarine but it’s not happening, there’s a malfunction. Though they’re almost at the cave, at this depth they don’t want to be seen. We’re told this as we see the sub follow a path that looks suspiciously like the long, tentacle laden limb of a giant squid. They’re running out of air and running out of energy but they’re close, Q thinks they’re going to make it.

    As they sit in the sub, Mia thinks to herself about her father’s murder, how most of the world won’t notice, let alone care, about what happened to him. Even those that knew of him didn’t really know him, she thinks.

    We flashback to her younger days, when he wasn’t around that much. We learn how Mia learned more about her father from old magazines and journals then from interaction with the man himself. We learn, through Mia’s reading, how Hari was curious kid who got in trouble at a young age for breaking into the museum, how during the war with Pakistan ancient treasures were found that he worked to save, how as a kid he’d dive for pearls to make extra money, leading to his love of the water. We learn how he and Roger developed the Dept. H team, a group of likeminded individuals equally as excited as he to travel the world and see all that they could see. We learn more about his work with Roger, the cameraman that followed him to the ends of the Earth and back, how Roger lost his legs on a dive, his work with philanthropists Blake Mortimer and Philip Kay and we learn of his attempts to balance his professional life with his personal life.

    We also see Mia reading her mother’s journals, written while she was having some health problems, in which she talks about her love for Hari, how those early days together were so exciting and filled with adventure. She talks of Hari’s gravity, his pull and his seemingly endless energy and infectious enthusiasm. She also speaks quite bluntly about the fine line between Hari’s skill and knowledge and his blind luck. It all changed after Roger’s accident and it began to take its toll on everyone around him.

    But then of course, there’s the situation with the submarine and the cave…

    This issue is almost (though not completely) character development based. Mia’s flashbacks make up the bulk of the comic, letting us into her head as we learn important details about Hari’s work ethic, how his characteristics shaped the team and the importance of the after effects of his work/personal life management. Another big key point in this chapter is the effect that Roger’s accident had not just on Roger but on the rest of the team, including by way of association really, Mia and her mother. Though there may not be a lot of action here, this issue clearly bridges what happened in the last one with what’s going to happen on the next one, making it an important stepping stone in the bigger ‘whole’ of the story being told. And then, of course, there’s the ending – there’s not a snowball’s chance in Hell we’re going to even hint that it in this review. Do yourself a favor and just check it out for yourself. It’s haunting, bizarre and almost surreal but it sure does pack a pretty hefty punch.

    Matt Kindt’s storytelling skills are matched only by his illustration skills (complemented beautifully, as always, by Sharlene Kindt’s amazing coloring work). There are few artists working in comics these days who are creative and unorthodox in their panel layouts as Matt Kindt which, when combined with his quirky but detailed penciling and knack for character design for not just the human characters but the inhuman characters as well, really gives this book a look unlike anything else out there. It makes for a wonderfully strange and wholly captivating comic book experience. Sixteen issues in and not a single misstep. Not a lot of books can claim that, but here we are again with Dept. H standing out head and shoulders above the rest as one of the best comic book series of the last few years.