‘Dept.H #4:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Like Matt Kindt, I have a standing fear of the ocean. It’s not enough to keep me out of the ocean at the beach, but it is enough to make me trepidatious those first few waves. It’s when the unknown meets with the imagination. So long as the ocean stays in its place and lets me stay in mine, we’re cool.

The first three issues of Kindt’s Dept.H were great, but this is the first issue for me that made me shiver. Dept.H #4 left me with chills. Two issues ago, Mia and her brother Raj were high-fived by a giant squid while doing some reconnaissance, as their communications line had been cut with the surface. This is, of course, very helpful when a possible murderer could be on board – for the murderer. In the last issue, Mia was rescued, by the skin of her teeth, and they had to deal with one of their own crew members going insane. Now in the aftermath of that, with their six-miles-below-the-surface base falling apart around them, they have to not only rescue Raj but turn on the old generators (which until now were quarantined). Thankfully, Raj may have also ended up where the generators are located.

That’s where things for me got creepy, when Kindt started to explore the recesses of his imagination, when he combined the unknown of the deepest parts of the ocean with the unknown mysteries Mia is trying to solve. As they travel deeper, the imagery, the crossing between the present and memories becomes more surreal. Sharlene Kindt’s coloring is beautiful, really capturing the majesty of the ocean and its inhabitants and helping along that feeling of being completely helpless, bringing that whole new world to life.

We’re also allowed time with one of the characters we haven’t gotten to know quite yet: Aaron. Is his willingness to do the right thing a ruse or genuine? And will what they discover bring answers or more dangers? My guess is more dangers and questions. I now have a month to wait to find out!

SPOILERS BELOW

This section is probably better to read after reading the issue, as it breaks down some more clues, at least ones I think are important. There’s still not quite enough to make connections with possible clues from before, but it’s good to lay them out when patterns become clearer.

  • We get to see how Roger lost his legs in this issue. Saving Hari from an underwater lava flow, he put Hari’s life first. Hari then pulled him to the boat, sans legs.
  • A character note: Q is a realist bordering on cynic, and he’s blunt about it. He’s so much so that he doesn’t care to save Raj even when there’s evidence he might be alive. Does he not care about Raj or would he treat anyone this way?
  • There’s something big underwater that’s feeding and storing the carcasses in one spot. Weird behavior for an underwater creature, as far as I’m concerned.
  • Why was the cave with the original generator quarantined by Hari? Why did Hari spend so much time down there by himself, mapping out the caves?
  • The voice in the caves can’t be a hallucination, as it's being heard by two people. It could either be Raj who is hallucinating, or it could be echoes of Hari’s voice coming from something that is mimicking it, or Raj’s voice somehow being mimicked. Mia is remembering a moment in which a bird did just that with her mother’s voice. Is this a clue or just another memory of her father that could prove important? So, the questions are who or what is it coming from? Who does it think wanted to stop them? What did it want to have hidden? Who is the “her” it refers to – there are only three women, two besides Mia? The only recorded creatures besides birds that could do this might be a Beluga Whale or a Harbour Seal, but both might not be able to do something so complex. Or is it just the echoes in the cave playing a trick from a hallucinating Raj? That would be the most logical conclusion.

Did anyone else pull any other potential clues or character tics that I missed?

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