Review: ‘The Department Of Truth’ #9 Continues To Join The Conspiratorial Dots Through Time

The Department of Truth #9 is another reminder of how integral Martin Simmonds’ art is to the success of this intriguing and intelligent series. His multi-textures, deeply layered pages really best suit the grubbiness of this conspiracy-heavy, black-ops series like no other artist. He illustrates every page with an eye for effective and eye-catching layouts given most issues offer up a heavy script overloaded with exposition, conspiracy theories and history. James Tynion IV tries to connect the dots and bring everything daft about our real-life world together, but it can be too much sometimes. It’s a fascinating web they are both weaving, but you certainly need to be fully concentrated, and totally dedicated to the long-term saga being played out. Sometimes painfully slowly.

But, it’s certainly a comic that never talks down to its readership. And a comic I found myself re-reading for this review. Now, that’s great value for money in my book. Not many comics lend themselves so well to re-reading and still remain enjoyable. Something I did not think of the last issue. But then, they are both creating a deep and dark alternative history of the world that stretches back to the dawn of humanity, as is revealed in this issue. 

As well as a well-rounded and well researched summation of world religions linked to semiotic theory and analysis – a bit part of this whole series – we get another peak into the machinations of the Department of Truth and the growing concern of their part played in Cole Turner’s development as a child and the scars it has left upon his psyche. It’s amazing he’s turned out so well adjusted, all things considered. Something the creepy Hawk Harrison – who we saw for the first time last issue, but who has been a fixer for the Department for a very long time –  makes comment on. While Hawk Harrison isn’t afraid to let his true nature fly uncensored, Cole – according to Hawk – still seems to be far too well adjusted for someone working for such a far-out there department. But, without the central figure of Cole, would we have anyone to latch onto and identify with? He’s certainly the heart of an oft-times heartless cast of characters. Hawk being a great example of these figures. You don’t have to be cruel to work there, but it sure as Hell helps.

We get an issue that connects ancient religions with modern day Judeo-Christian religions as well as the real-life figure of Aleister Crowley with more layers of the onion being slowly peeled away. The power of symbols across time is investigated through Hawk’s long-winded monologues, as is their reappropriation by the the modern Church, and other splinter groups such as the Masons, in a bid to cast past religions as something they are not. 

Unlike last issue’s exposition-heavy script, I enjoyed this one more. But then, maybe it was the subject matter? After all, there is a pattern to each issue and you’re either still enjoying it, or you’re not, I suspect. What wore me down last time, was more welcome this time round. 

On reflection, I am amazed we are only nine issues deep into this series. And when I do look back there may well be a reliance of dialogue, but that all adds up to a pretty dense and complex story that’s still holding my attention. I’m back on board and enjoying it all again, after my wobble over last issue. 

The Department of Truth #9 is out now from Image Comics.

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