‘Dept.H #17:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Dept.H is a murder mystery, six miles under the ocean. There are giant squids, giant turtles, talking spiders, crumbling bases, population-killing viruses, and at the center of this surreal and tense environment is Mia – who simply wants to figure out who killed her father, the engineer of this entire underwater expedition in the first place. For Mia, joining the crew created a tense situation almost immediately. She could hardly sleep much less get a breath, her mind racing from memory to memory, searching her past for any clues that might point to who killed him and why, while the world literally crumbles around her.

In issue #17, as even more details of the characters that surround her surface, I begin to realize that there’s still so much to know before anyone can pinpoint the murderer. Backstories reveal complications, histories, and motivations. I try to draw a line and have to erase it right away. If nothing else (and it is everything and more), this is a supremely well-constructed mystery.

As a married couple, creators Matt and Sharlene Kindt are a creative force to be reckoned with. Matt’s vision as a storyteller and Sharlene’s vision as a colorist elevate the book beyond the genre. I’ve talked about the cinematic textures before, and here, again, they enlighten the reader as to the emotional journeys the characters are on. The imagery is reminiscent of what Ingmar Bergman and Sven Nykvist created together. There is a story being told in the images and the textures, one that isn’t always addressed in the dialogue. It’s probably one of the more visually intelligent books out there right now.

This issue touches upon the epic underwater story and tells the story of two friends, Mia and Lily. It could be a story unto itself, but instead the depths of their story are used to help broaden the larger story. This is more than just a murder mystery; it's a psychological drama unfolding.

We keep hearing about the failing comic book industry in the news, and sometimes even from the big publishers themselves. To me, this is sad, because we’re in a golden age of comics right now. The creative and visionary worlds being brought to life are some of the best that there have ever been. Matt Kindt’s books are on the threshold of this age, inviting you in to read. Step through the doorway and crack open a page. Do yourself that favor.

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