The Department of Truth #8 returns us to our regular scheduled programming with yet more conspiracies to be over-explain and thereby side-stepping any real action. Again. Is this series becoming too formulaic for its own good?
While I’ve enjoyed the past two interlude issues, it’s good to have Martin Simmonds back in the saddle for The Department of Truth #8 and adding a much needed layer of grim, decay and dirtiness to proceedings. Just like it should be for such a lurid and dark story. The mixed media approach he brings to this series is a huge part of its appeal to me, and I dare say to many readers too. It will be interesting to see how such a style is adopted – if at all – for the tone of the television series currently in the early stages of production. Just like David McKean’s covers for The Sandman are so integral to that book, so too is Simmonds style to this. Adding additional grit to an already gritty script by James Tynion IV. Even the hallowed Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. looks washed out and stripped of any light and wonder, better reflecting the dodgy dealings being discussed by Lee Harvey Oswald and his companion back in 1987, Hawk Harrison, as this new story-arc begins. And, as they discuss one Cole Turner! The plot thickens!
And it’s not just the plot as present day Cole Turner continues to learn of the layer upon layer of work the Department of Truth must do to cover their tracks. After all, “you can’t write an obituary that says two of the richest men in the country died in Antarctica in front of an impossible ice wall.” As Ruby, Cole’s more clued-up partner explains as they head off to stop another conspiracy theory from breathing life.
In many ways this issue feels like a recalibration. We are re-familiriased with Cole, Ruby and the Department’s work, but once again we get a lot of the dialogue that acts as catch-up and a reminder of where we were up to some two months previously. But alos begins to feel like unnecessary exposition.
But soon we’re back into familiar territory. And by that I mean somewhat formulaic. We get another new and interesting “conspiracy theory of the month” for Tynion IV to debunk in his own special way, while the bigger story is still picked and prodded at slowly. This is clearly going to be a marathon not a sprint, but the heavy reliance of dialogue, and the piling up of one conspiracy theory after another, instead of action is beginning to wear in this reviewer. At least we have Simmonds’s provocative artwork to prevent this from becoming simply an illustrated encyclopaedia of conspiracy theories. That, and an ending that brings this issue full circle. Enough that I’ll be picking up the next issue. But, with my interesting being drawn away from this series because of it’s somewhat slow formulaic slow-burn storytelling, I’m not sure it will keep my attention for too much longer.
Still an interesting read, but unless more of the mysteries are revelled, I doubt I’ll be investing in a second year of collecting this book if it continues to drag its feet.
The Department of Truth #8 is out Wednesday 28th April from Image Comics