Dept.H has to be one of my favorite comics on the shelves right now. Truthfully, anything Matt Kindt touches these days, especially in the creator-owned environment, is near perfect. He doesn’t think like your typical comic book creator. Every panel of every issue tells a story on multiple levels. He creates tone, a sense of space that reflects the mood and inner psyche of the characters, all while furthering the actual story along. By tackling all these elements, you get a sense of the tension and emotional journeys his characters are in the midst of taking. In Dept.H, it’s Mia’s story.
She’s currently trapped on a science lab six miles under the ocean with a murderer – only she doesn’t know who the murderer is. But that’s why she’s there, to figure it out. You see it was her father, the head of this science mission, that was murdered. On this journey, she’s been attacked by a giant squid, almost lost her brother, trapped in a room as the water has risen to the point of drowning, and gone through a lot of physical and emotional turmoil in a short period, and during this stretch she has had very little sleep.
That leaves her in this issue wandering not only through the wreckage of the science lab – hallways collapsed, doors blocked, wires hanging from ceilings, water lingering everywhere like it was a villain knocking at your door only wanting to come in and crush you with its weight and fill your lungs – but also through her memories. One memory personified haunts her through the wreckage: the memory of a story her father told her. She converses out loud and panels blend together as time, place, and reality pile on top of each other. The moral of the story Mia tells herself reveals a lot about who she is and how she’s going to go about solving this, though, so far, every attempt at solving the mystery has left her seemingly with nothing.
In this issue, we also are reminded of a disease that’s threatening humanity’s existence, one that only a few issues ago we found out that a cure might exist on this base. A clue? A motive?
As she arrives at the place where she began the issue, she enters visceral chaos. This visual and emotional chaos represents all the unanswered questions swirling through Mia’s head. Every panel tells a story that paints a picture of the whole. I haven’t figured out who the killer is yet, and chances are I probably won’t. I can only hope Mia figures it out before she falls prey to one of the many life-threatening dangers that surrounds her.