Issue #21 of Dept.H uses one of those filmic devices of video footage showing things that video footage couldn’t possibly show or at least not in the way it could show it. We become observers of the past, watching as the footage is being shot, almost as if the person watching is filling in the blanks for us with their imagination. So, in a way, we’re not actually seeing reality, but our hero’s perception of what that reality is. This is a wonderful metaphor, as Dept.H is so much more than a simple thriller/murder mystery at the depths of the ocean, but also the depths of memories and our understanding of the past.
Our hero is Mia, waiting while her mini-sub recharges and her body acclimates to her new depth with the remaining members of the Dept. H crew, as they agonizingly make their way to the surface of the ocean. One of them, maybe several of them, or maybe none of them murdered her father Hari. She went to the submerged research lab to figure out who and why. If there was a plan beyond that, nothing went accordingly. She’s had to fight her way through the life-and-death chaos of everything around her while rummaging through the chaos of her own and other’s memories. In this issue, that life-or-death struggle prompts more memories, and while we hear it through the voice of Roger, it isn’t so much about him, but Mia’s mother and the love both he and Hari shared for her.
Roger is a documentarian, documenting Hari’s life and research. In this issue, creator Matt Kindt has documented the story of a breaking heart and a breaking friendship. Within that framework, through the story of a shipwrecked crew, Kindt has captured a tremendously beautiful moment as one person falls in love with another. This issue revolves around that moment and the joy and sadness that springs from it. It also hints at Hari’s great intellect being used to manipulate a situation to his favor. I feel like this has come up before; that Hari may not be as great a person as everyone believes him to be.
This very human issue with an incredibly tense button makes a month a very long time to wait.