Spoilers for The Department of Truth
Back in the 18th century. there was a German philosopher that one day would be considered one of the most important philosophers in history. His name was Immanuel Kant, and he changed the way we thought about thinking. He pondered that it was impossible that we could have access to reality, more specifically, to things itself. He said that we could only have access to phenomena created by our senses and our understanding. This all led into the idea that things were (more or less) simply ideas created by our reasoning through which we understood the world.
Now, I start this review with a half baked summary of Kant not because I loved him (quite the contrary, in fact), or because I want to pretend I’m really smart (ok maybe a little bit), but because issue #13 of The Department of Truth made me think a lot about the way the world is, and the world we make for ourselves.
In this new chapter of the series, Hawk brings Cole to the last place he would ever return, the school where he once thought he was tortured by a satanic cult and a monster with a star drawn on his face. There, Cole and Hawk discuss the origin of the conspiracy theories around satanic cults and Hawk reveals to Cole that Barker has a bigger plan in store, that the Starfaced Man has taken from, and that he suspects that Lee is not the real deal, but a fiction manifested in reality.
Before I get into my favorite part of this issue (and the reason I brought up Kant), let me once again praise Martin Simmonds’ art and Aditya Bidikar’s letters. Even though the historical discussions in this issue are really interesting, long dialogue scenes like this can get tedious in a medium like comics, but Simmonds’ art is so good that it keeps your attention throughout the whole comic, while it also does a wonderful job setting up the atmosphere and the tone of the comic. Simmonds’ talent combines with Bidikar’s wonderful lettering special shine when it comes to the Starfaced Man. This pair presents a monster so unsettling and horrendous that each panel that contains it becomes the center of attention.
All that being said, my favorite thing about this issue is probably Hawk’s history and motivation. Here we have a guy that knows the truth doesn’t really matter in a world where the images we make of the world matter more than the world itself. He understood this but didn’t realize this doesn’t make the truth less powerful, and when he tried to play god, he realized that things are a lot more complex than we think; he understood that even when we try to put everything in little boxes (like good guys and bad guys) and see the world through lenses of our making, we will never have power over truth itself.
The reason I don’t like Kant is because, even though he was a brilliant man and that he revolutionised philosophy and knowledge itself, he is one of the main reasons that we believe that we can control the truth through theories and categories, and once we think this, once we are sure everything can be organized into a tidy little system, that’s the moment the truth fights back, the moment it challenges everything we thought we knew. It’s time we start realizing we need to have a chat with truth instead of trying to tame it, or starfaced monsters will come for us at night.