Cole Turner has an unexpected visitor in ‘The Department of Truth’. One who tries to offer him an alternative perspective in a world gone mad. A fittingly head-spinning finale to the first arc of this engaging, thought-provoking seers from James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds.
(+++ WARNING: This advance review for The Department of Truth #5 contains spoilers for this issue +++)
The Department of Truth #5 continues to be beautifully opaque and perplexing. A series based on the power of conspiracy theories which has sadly tumbled into our real world in recent weeks. The attack on Capitol Hill by hardcore QAnon spouting home-grown terrorists was terrifying to watch. The willingness of Republicans to continue to support the outgoing President even more unbelievable, if I’m honest.
Thankfully, James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds’ espionage-tinted black ops sc-fi thriller is a work of fiction, even if the parallels with contemporary crises like the one of January 6th are all too real, sadly.
In this issue we get an alternative viewpoint to recent world history. One aimed at persuading our hero, Cole Turner, to defect to the other side as put forward by a fellow calling himself Martin Barker. An agent of the mysterious Black Hat.
It’s a fascinating and persuading perspective put forward, that’s for sure in an issue that once again relies on well-crafted dialogue and claustrophobic close-ups. I defy anyone reading this compelling argument not to rethink their position, just as Cole is being asked to do. Is Cole one of the good guys, or a bad ‘un? Which side of history will he find himself treading? After all, as the saying goes, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. It’s all a matter of perspective, as Cole is beginning to learn.
Even if you only have the most fundamental understanding of media theory I ma sure you have come across the widely held left-leaning belief – and one supported by a wealth of evidence, that’s for sure – that those in power shape and control the narrative. They write the script and broadcast the American Dream in a manner that best suits these powerbrokers and maintains the status quo to their advantage. This is Noam Chomsky 101; media as propaganda. Something we learn dictators use time and again to keep the masses compliant. But, a theory we are not to keen to level at our leaders of Western democracies.
But, it does have some merit. Again, you only need to look back at the role social media played on the events of January 6th, You tell me this there has no merit to this idea? And that’s the point. We are thrown into a more heightened state of confusion that we’ve already encountered with this series. As this first story-arc comes to a close we certainly have a lot to think about.
Simmonds’s scratched, paint-flecked moody artwork is a constant reminder to the reader of the dark, dangerous and often surreal world Cole find himself drawn into. This is a world of magic realism and monsters. Anything is possible and all it takes is belief. Add to that the slightly off kilter lettering and angular speech balloons by Aditya Bidikar and the creepiness is inescapable. A living nightmare Cole cannot wake up from.
By the end of this dialogue-drenched issue, Cole’s head must be spinning with everything he’s been told and everything he’s seen. And just like his partner, Ruby, we are none the wiser to the real picture and who might be the real monsters. Although, with Cole’s mind now piqued by the Black Hat, the plot has just become even more complex.
The Department of Truth #5 is out Wednesday 27t January from Image Comics