• Dept. H #20

    Dept. H #20
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: November 22nd, 2017.
    Written by: Matt Kindt
    Illustrated by: Matt Kindt, Sharlene Kindt
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    Mia and the rest are stuck in the submarine. She feels like she’s suffocating, complaining about the heat, Raj tells her to take a walk and check in on Q. Begrudgingly, she obliges. She climbs up the ladder then into the small passageway that leads to the area where Q is working. The sub is charging, they should be moving in a few hours.

    Before that happens, Mia talks to him – asks him a simple question ‘Q, who are you?’ This leads into a flashback sequence where we finally learn his backstory. He grew up in the Australian Outback on a small farm with his abusive father. Eventually, Q had enough and he took care of the abusive father problem for good, got in his truck and split, never to return. He wound up in Melbourne, worked loading and unloading cargo for pirates for a bit and then eventually found work stealing bits and pieces of the Great Barrier Reef for some wealthy gangsters. He didn’t like doing any of this work, but it was work and he had to do something. After that he started doing salvage dives – just going down to the bottom, tying ropes to some crates, that was it. Easy work, but then he found out what was in the crates, and he was done with it.

    Back on the run with no money, no family and no friends he wound up getting nabbed by the cops. He made a friend in prison, but that friend didn’t last long, sending Q into the general population with vengeance on his mind. His actions wound up getting him a life sentence. When he saw Hari on TV one day, it changed his life. Here was a man talking about helping the Great Barrier Reef, something that Q could do, that would give him purpose – and so he busted out of prison and set out to find him…

    So good! The way that Kindt has been giving detailed backstories on all of the players and then tying them into Hari’s death is masterful storytelling. It allows us, like Mia, to form our own opinions about who may have done what here. Not only does it full exploit the mystery that is at the heart of the storyline here, but it also serves to enrich the series’ character development in all the right ways. Q is a great example. Before this issue he was a big guy with a temper and an accent – now he’s more real. We can feel for him, and at the same time, fear him more effectively than before because we know his history and what he’s capable of. It’s also interesting how the revelations in this issue have an effect on Mia, something that will surely trickle down into the final issues soon to come.

    Once again, Matt Kindt’s artwork, beautifully colored by Sharlene Kindt, brings the story to life perfectly. In this issue we really get a feel for how tough it would be to be stuck in the sub the way that these characters are. A few panels, one full page piece in particular, are particularly claustrophobic and go a long way towards helping us understand the tension inherent in the situation. Things open up when we see Q’s story unfold, which provides nice contrast on a visual level. Lots of very emotive facial expressions and interesting ‘camera angels’ ensure that we’re completely pulled into all of this.

    Another perfect issue.

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