DEPT. H, VOL. 1
Writer & Artist: Matt Kindt
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A murder mystery in a deep sea facility. It’s like Chinatown meets The Abyss meets The Cloverfield Paradox.
It feels like the kind of story you’d see take place in a spaceship, but has a larger cast than those lonely, creepy sci-fi thrillers you’re used to. Kindt takes some pains to show how being underwater actually raises the stakes from a more interstellar atmosphere.
There may be some paranormal aspect in subsequent volumes, but everything seems fairly contained within the realm of science for this story so far.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? (Minor Spoilers)
A woman is called to investigate a murder in a deep sea research station. The team is a bunch of familiar faces – people she’s known or worked with for years.
She has a perfect memory, but only gets a one look at the murder scene before trouble strikes, guiding her attention elsewhere. One thing’s for certain: this is more than murder.
Will she be able to figure out who the murderer and saboteur is amidst constant danger and distraction? And will she be able to put the pieces together before the whole station collapses in on itself, taking her and the entire crew with it?
The story is a slow burn, balancing the tension of “now” with reveals of what happened between characters in the past
Watercolor is the perfect medium for a story that takes place underwater
Defining the depth that the characters are at as a kind of pressure cooker works brings more tension to the tone of the story
The main character is a non-white woman – points for not another white guy!
Having the ticking clock of impending doom adds urgency and sets a fast pace for the tale to unfold
The protagonist’s perfect memory is balanced by her previous trauma and current danger, preventing her from being a Mary Sue
The dual use of “Depth”/”Dept. H” is a nice touch, and the water slowly filling up the sidebar of the pages (see the image below) is also really cool to discover
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
There’s a lot of story setup in this volume – the first half can be a slower read
While the handwritten lettering helps lend a more intimate, emotional feel, it can be difficult to read for folks following along on their phones
If suspenseful murder mysteries aren’t your thing, there’s not much else to keep you invested (at least in this first volume)
WHY SHOULD YOU READ IT?
It’s an interesting story, and I’m excited to see where it’s going. It balances great emotion and heart with action, tension and a story that spans multiple genres.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Dept. H, Vol. 2 by Matt Kindt
Ether, Vol. 1 by Matt Kindt & David Rubín
Black Hammer, Vol. 1 by Jeff Lemire & Dean Ormston
If you like the art:
MIND MGMT, Vol. 1 by Matt Kindt
A.D.: After Death by Scott Snyder & Jeff Lemire
Harrow County, Vol. 1 by Cullen Bunn & Tyler Crook
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Matt Kindt – Writer, Artist, Letterer
Multitalented: He often does both the art and the story for his comics
He lives in the St. Louis area, near a certain charming, comic-reviewing yeti
Was just nominated for an Eisner award for Best Writer
Sharlene Kindt – Colors
Married to the comics writer, Matt Kindt
Watercolor artist who also makes candles (see them at https://www.websterwax.com/)
Also worked on parts of another Matt Kindt title, MIND MGMT
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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