Believe the Unbelievable - Image Comics Pick of the Week: The Department of Truth #1 Reviewed

Photo Courtesy of Image Comics

“It’s always about control… It’s a desire to reject the aspects of life that feel too complicated and too abstract, and build a more comfortable reality that they can understand. And more than that… It’s a sense that if they’re right, and they’re onto the truth that’s been kept secret all this time… Well, then they’re heroes aren’t they?” - Cole Turner

It is nearly impossible to be an active user of the internet and social media and not stumble upon a conspiracy theory or two. Some may seem absolutely ludicrous, others, not so far-fetched. Faked Moon landings, a flat Earth, and the true fate of late president John F. Kenedy are all commonly discussed conspiracies. But how do these theories come about? And why do people believe, support, and share them? The Department of Truth (Written by James Tynion IV, Art by Martin Simmonds) reveals that there are external forces at work on both sides of the theories working to either quell the spread of them or substantiate their truth. 

Our window into this world is Cole Turner, a teacher for the FBI specializing in conspiracies and memes, most notably their use by alt-right groups. He quickly finds himself in over his head while attending a flat Earth conference. His journey over the next few days is presented as an anxiety-ridden fever dream, as Cole goes beyond the limits of what he thought was physically possible. He eventually finds himself in a sit down with the eponymous Department of Truth and is forced to confront the uncomfortable reality of the world, and the extents that those in power will go to to have their vision of reality come to fruition. 


Photo Courtesy of Image Comics


The art of The Department of Truth is a unique, messy, watercolor style that might be off-putting at first, but settles in as the issue goes in. It evokes a distorted old-school film vibe akin to something like The Zapruder Film. The style serves to make even normal settings and characters feel uncanny, creating an unsettling vibe that runs through the issue from beginning to end.

As the first issue of The Department of Truth comes to its close with an unexpected twist, it is clear that Tynion is going to have fun with this. Playing in the world of conspiracies presents a bevy of options. With the first issue already tackling three of the most notable, there are still many to incorporate into the story: Area 51, lizard people, Bigfoot and more could all reasonably make appearances in this book. How Tynion and company will put their unique stamp on them is still to be seen, but it will certainly be one you don’t want to miss.

 - Neil Hazel