Written By: Matt Kindt - Art By: Sharlene Kindt
Published By: Dark Horse Comics
Dept.H is exceptional at making the reader truly feel as if they are alone at the bottom of the ocean. There are others that Mia, the lead character, interacts with along the way, but you never truly feel connected to any of them. Not a criticism in this context, as writer Matt Kindt's story is one centered around isolation and a healthy dose of paranoia.
A good murder mystery needs those things, and at its heart, that's what DEPT.H is. Mia is tasked with finding out who killed someone very close to her. Things get complicated when said murder takes place within a top secret facility located 6 miles underwater at the bottom of the ocean.
While finding out who caused the murder is the ultimate goal, the more interesting part is weaving through Mia's past relationships with the staff of DEPT.H, which includes a childhood friend and her brother, both of whom are also suspects. Matt Kindt keeps Mia's walls up throughout, though he does let small glimpses shine through her armor every once in a while, enough to let the reader empathize while still not understanding exactly what makes her tick.
While Mia's circumstances are somewhat solitary unto themselves , Sharlene Kindt's art is what really lends everything its weight. Whether it's her depiction of Mia's sub, itself just a spec upon an endless blue expanse, or of the innards of DEPT.H, itself an endless maze of narrow tunnels and pathways. The flashbacks actually serve as much needed breaths of air, allowing the reader to shake that weight for just a few panels before submerging again. If I have a nitpick, it's only that much of the expressions seem to be a bit too similar. It makes it hard to suss out anything else other than surface assumptions from what they're saying since the characters expressions are so alike.
DEPT.H #1 is a worthwhile read, regardless of genre, but if you like a good mystery with a focus on interpersonal relationships, I think you'll be hooked.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars