• Dept. H #21



    Dept. H #21
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: December 13th, 2017.
    Written by: Matt Kindt
    Illustrated by: Matt Kindt, Sharlene Kindt
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    Mia and the others are running out of power. Roger knows this more than anyone else, and he gives Mia a flash drive. He tells her he wants her to have it ‘in case we don’t make it.’ She pops it into her helmet to view the files and it’s here that we learn how and why Roger, like the others, became a member of her father’s team.

    He worked as Hari’s photographer and cameraman, and we come to understand why it was strange spending a lifetime documenting someone else’s life. We see one of their earlier exploits, where Hari ‘borrowed’ a sub to go find a wreck, the Arnhem, an Indiaman ship wrecked in the 1600’s. As time went on, they grew closer but, as with any friendship, there were ‘wrinkles’ now and then. Mia’s mother was more than a wrinkle though.

    When Roger is alone with her, she tells him the story of the Arnhem, the people that were aboard it when she went down, how eighty survivors made it to the shore of a remote island with whatever remnants they were able to salvage from the boat. They settled in and made the best of it. One kept a journal - and in that journal it was noted that they’d seen a dodo bird, the last people known to have done so. They ate it. Weeks later, they were rescued but three couples and one man decided to stay.

    As her story ends, Hari returns, excited by his dive and what he’s found. We learn how Roger, Hari and Salia travelled the world together, how Roger lost his shot, not realizing she’d fallen in love with Hari before it was too late, and how it ‘wrecked him.’ We also learn what happened to Roger’s legs, what happened to him from the knees down. Neither of them anticipated outliving Salia, however. It was when she passed that there was a shift in Roger’s loyalty, how he was then determined to document Hari’s failure…

    With only three issues left to go, Mia is running out of suspects. We have to wonder if she’ll ever figure out the truth behind her father’s death. With the crew essentially trapped for the time being, and little hope of them making it to the surface, it’s clear that they’re all running out of time. As such, the tension is ramping up and things are getting even more intense. And yet, as Kindt has been doing for the last few issues, we once again get a big, thick slab of character development and backstory here. This time, obviously, it’s Roger who gets properly fleshed out. As we learn of his past, his present makes more sense. His attitude towards things, his actions – they all tie in to what he’s been through and who he’s been through it with. The writing in this issue, as it has been with the twenty that came before it, is excellent.

    As is the artwork. Beautifully colored by Sharlene Kindt, the visuals continue to expertly capture the drama, the suspense and the beauty of this story. If it isn’t the enclosed walls of the containment chamber providing a claustrophobic vibe it’s the panels showing Hari, Salia and Roger travelling the world and showcasing all of its beauty. Close up ‘shots’ of Roger’s face towards the end add a nice dramatic touch and of course, Kindt’s knack for illustrating sea creatures and unusual looking technology shines here, as it does in every issue.

    We’re getting close to the finish line here, and so far Dept. H has yet to experience a single misstep. It’ll be fascinating to see how this is all wrapped up a few short months from now.