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‘Dept.H #20:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Matt and Sharlene Kindt’s Dept.H is equally an experiment and a lesson in how to structure a long-term murder mystery. I honestly didn’t think it would still be going or that it could last this long and be this interesting. Me of little faith.

Why does it work so well? Matt Kindt knows when and which elements to draw out. He takes the time to explore the depths of human memory and connection while at the same time unfurling a tense thriller. Two lines that were drawn parallel to each other are pushed to intersect over and over again.  Every time that they cross paths, the human drama elevates the tension, and, in return, the tension escalates the human drama.

Mia, a talented scientist, volunteered to find out who murdered her father, the brilliant head scientist of an underwater base. She found herself trapped six miles underwater with a crew of people, a few whom she knew, several whom she didn’t, and all suspects. It didn’t take long before she had to survive sabotage, giant underwater creatures, a virus and a vaccine, crazed crew members, flooding, surreal caverns, uncertain memories, and uncertain allies.

This issue is a character issue, stepping away from the thriller to delve and dig into one of the more interesting characters. How honest he’s being or how well-intentioned he is remains to be seen. It’s difficult to see the entire picture over the length of twenty issues, and with more revealed in every issue, what we assume is truth here could shift and scatter. Like the ocean itself, these secrets go deep.

As I read on and follow Mia’s journey, I hope the answer isn’t easy. I hope it’s complicated. I hope it embraces the more esoteric elements of the story. I kind of hope the mystery is never solved. Like with Twin Peaks, who murdered Laura Palmer isn’t the concern; it’s how her absence affects those around her and the world in which something so vile could happen. It’s about the turmoil that’s sparked by the murder, both internal and external.  It’s about the discovery of who a person really is when faced with the worst of who we are. So far, Mia hasn’t had to make any difficult decisions. She has been in survival mode, but soon she will be forced to. Soon, she’ll have to make some very difficult decisions.

A really quick shout-out to the black-and-white page at the end of this issue, filling in a good, emotional moment.

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor



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