Honestly I seriously thought of just writing “Shit just got real” and ending the review right there, but I feel I owe this issue a little bit more, because (and I don’t say this lightly) this issue is fucking amazing!
The issue begins with a flashback to Cole’s childhood (amazingly drawn similar to a 50s cartoon) where we see his mother talking to a mysterious figure about everything that Cole has gone through with the satanic cults and Star face demons. We quickly discover this mysterious figure is Hawk and young Cole makes a realization that will change the series from that point forward, Hawk is a liar.
The rest of the basically consists in of two big scenes, one in which Ruby and Lee discus the way Black Hat has been issuing the internet, algorithms and social media to manipulate the narrative and And manifest conspiracy theories, and another where Hawk tells Cole about how he tried to weaponize conspiracies and the ways in which he fail all ending in Cole realizing the only truth that seems to matter, that Cole is Black Hat and he is bringing Cole Home.
This issue is so charged with heavy exposition and tons of information, but the creative team manages to make it all flow at just the right speed. Simmonds’ art and layouts in particular do a great job in dividing the information and maintaining the reader’s attention. His surreal style really mixes very well with tales about the manipulation of truth and the powers of narrative. The pages with the black helicopters in particular are award worthy.
It really feels like things have built up to this issue and not just plot wise. I think that themes and discussions that have been developed all throughout the series reached their highest point in this issue. Previous chapters talked about the way truth developed, how it behaves, how it affects people and how it can be changed. This issue brings all those ideas and leads them to their logical conclusion, the weaponization of the truth.
Truth can be weaponized and not just in worlds were the beliefs of people manifest into reality. For example, conspiracy theories are just one way to do this. Playing mix match with facts and stories to create the perfect narrative that will bring fear to the hearts of those who listen. Sometimes the news weaponizes the truth, sometimes the government does as well. The thing about truth is that with enough influence and power it can be malleable, and it can transform reality in more ways than one. Like this issue highlights, the age of the internet and social media have made truth a lot more unstable. A viral tweet can change the perspective of whole countries, and a series of YouTube videos can make a man president.
What makes The Department of Truth so good is that it combines narrative and art with relevant discussion and themes in a way that creates a unique journey and makes the reader question some of the most fundamental concepts about knowledge. Stories like this are important not just because they are really interesting reads, but because they make us ask questions, and asking questions is one of the most important things there is.
Don’t take me wrong, I don’t want everyone to become a conspiracy nut — I actually think that the questions raised in this series do the exact opposite. Asking questions makes you learn more and learning more makes the truth stronger, and less people can weaponize it if it’s strong. So what are you waiting for? Go read The Department of Truth, and I will see you next time to talk a little more about truth.