• Dept. H #17

    Dept. H #17
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: August 23rd, 2017.
    Written by: Matt Kindt
    Illustrated by: Matt Kindt, Sharlene Kindt
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    Everyone is in the cave, but it’s not a good scene. The CO2 build up is driving certain people crazy, Lily and Bob are losing it. They need to use their dive suits. Those that aren’t yet affected by the buildup get the helmets on those that are, but Aaron, he went over the cliff. There’s a rope and anchor handy so Mia decides to rappel down the side of said cliff to see what she can find – and hopefully bring him back in one piece. She finds him on the back of what appears to be the giant turtle that’s been making appearances in the series for a while now, and manages to bring him back up to where the rest of the crew is waiting for them.

    While Mia’s been playing rescue squad, the sub has been recharging. While they wait for the charge to build, Q asks Mia to check on Aaron and make sure he’s okay. She does, and fills him in on what happened to Jerome. When Mia sees Lily typing something on a tablet, we flash back to when she was younger. Here we learn how Lily was taken on by Hari as a protégé. Despite being a young girl she had a real knack for programming. The fact that her dad was dead and her mom a drunk made it easy to basically adopt her. She and Mia became fast friends. They were the same age and Lily’s skills came in handy when they decided to break into the hold via the electronic lock and gorge themselves on cookies.

    “We grew up together like sisters” we learn. Things with Mia’s brother Raj weren’t’ always so hunky dory though. And then the relationship sours when Mia finds out that Lily had messed with her father through a series of emails, emails that her mother read and that got her quite upset. As the girls got older, they grew apart. Mia was all that Lily had, but Lily was not all that Mia had. Lily just wanted what Mia had, and if that meant Alain, then that meant Alain, but obviously that wasn’t going to go over well even if Lily meant no malice, at least up until a certain point in time where clearly that was not the case.

    For a series that is insanely dependent on the quality of its character development, this is probably the most character development heavy issue yet. It’s a testament to the quality of the writing here that we feel we know the principal players as well as we do at this point, for if we didn’t the impact wouldn’t be as strong nor would the suspense resonate the way that it does. There isn’t any action in this issue. There aren’t any massive conspiracies laid bare for all to see. The revelations – and they are big – come quietly, almost calmly. It’s a great tactic, one that rewards those readers patient enough to have stuck with Matt Kindt’s wildly creative book since the beginning but that at the same time seems to strive not to alienate new readers (for as much as that is possible, at least). Kindt’s artwork compliments his writing wonderfully, while Sharlene Kindt’s coloring work continues to give the book this unique water color look that ties in wonderfully to the series’ deep sea setting and aesthetic.

    The back pages contain an interesting illustrated guide to Hari’s Junior Exploration Team as well as some reader letters. Worth a read as always. Oh, and pay attention to the back cover. That’s a nice touch right there.

    This is beautiful stuff, just perfect in both its simplicity and its complexity and it how it crafts characters that matter within the framework of what is basically a simple murder mystery. If you haven’t given this a shot yet, do yourself a favor and get caught up.