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‘Dept.H #3:’ Advance Comic Book Review

If Matt Kindt were a pitcher in a baseball game, he would have floored me with his ability to throw amazing curve balls. At the end of issue two of Dept.H, we were left with a giant, squid-like thing having attacked Mia and her brother, Raj. Five pages into the third issue, we veer left (and a few times into WTF territory) and never return to where we started, leaving more questions in our wake.

Kindt begins Issue 3 with Mia making a brilliant observation of herself through a cleverly designed flashback that brings us back to the present tense. To catch people up, Dept.H is an underwater science research base six miles below the surface of the ocean. There was a crew of eight people on board until the head scientist was killed. This head scientist happens to have been Mia’s father. Mia, a brilliant scientist in her own right, has arrived to figure out who the murderer was. Just as her investigation begins, supposed sabotage occurs; the communication lines with the people on the surface are cut, sending her and her brother into the ocean to see exactly what has happened. While out, her brother shows Mia one of the things that their father loved about the ocean, and they leap off an underwater cliff and fall into the darkness where the bio-luminescent sea life surrounds them, until they are attacked by what appears to be a giant squid.

You would think rescue parties would be sent and everyone would pull together; instead, the crew seems incredibly disinterested in lending a helping hand to save anyone, unless it includes themselves. On every other page, new information is introduced, but what is important versus what is there to throw us off the scent is difficult to say at this point.

This is a locked-room murder mystery six miles below the ocean, and, right now, everyone feels like a suspect. We are walking in Mia’s shoes here, seeing everything she sees and remembering details of past interactions to make us as suspicious as she is.  Surrounded by the pressure of the water on the other side of the walls and glass of Dept.H – but also the motivations and actions of the crew surrounding her – as the available space continues to shrink, there really is no way for Mia to escape until she solves the murder. And I won’t stop reading until she does.

Here, the SPOILERS begin, as my detective work continues…

This is the detective portion of the review, where I lay out all the clues and try to figure it out on my own. If you wish to join me, please do so in the comment section.

This is my third time through Issue 3, because there are so many potential clues littered about. It’s like a bunch of blank puzzle pieces with no edges. So, let’s create some edges. What we do know:

  1. Mia’s father was killed. It may have been accidental, but it may have not been. It may have been suicide, but there’s nothing yet to suggest that. Regardless of which it was, his body was left floating in the obliterated portion of the lab.
  2. No autopsy has been done.
  3. There were various clues Mia found in the now-flooded room, one being a gun.
  4. There was a clue at the broken communications cable that points towards sabotage.
  5. We know there are backup generators in the cave where the giant squid is. This is the last place we saw Raj.
  6. We know Raj and Mia don’t have the strongest brother/sister relationship.
  7. We know Mia and Lily don’t have the strongest of relationships and Lily cares about Raj (to what extent we don’t know yet).
  8. We know Q saved Mia’s life but wouldn’t go back for Raj, and he is scarily strong.
  9. We know Jerome, the head of research, has lost his mind and began to sabotage the ship. We also know he has been experimenting on the sea life, and it has been called contagious. Chances are he knows something he’s not saying (though, to be fair, chances are they all do…).
  10. We know Lily is the only person that could cut Jerome off from having access to the central computers.
  11. We know Mia has a fear of going too far.
  12. We know Mia is possibly hallucinating.
  13. We know Dept.H is one catastrophic failure away from a complete shutdown.
  14. We know that we don’t know what happened to Raj.

Mia is suspicious of Lily despite her desire to help find Raj, because she remembers Lily as being manipulative. Lily doesn’t seem to think very highly of Mia referring to her as “uptight.”

What all this amounts to, I’m not certain yet. Am I missing anything? What are your suspicions?

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor



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