You’ll feel lost, baffled, and disbelieving after reading The Department of Truth volume 1, but is that really the point? In order to make sense of everything, the creative team of writer James Tynion IV, artist Martin Simmonds, letterer Aditya Bidikar, and designer Dylan Todd joined forces to capture the spirit of our current socio-political and cultural period. Even though it’s a difficult task, they try to take it on. The setting and timeframe of the story are our own.A U.S. government organisation dubbed The Department of Truth lurks as conspiracy theories run rampant in the murky corners of the internet and the uncritical minds of the uninformed. their role? must get rid of those who spread conspiracies and wrap up any loose ends that can jeopardise the stability of the truth that they are attempting to protect. In this fictional universe, truth isn’t always something that can be established objectively; instead, it’s something that is created by the conviction that something is real. In other words, there is a rather stable timeline of facts and occurrences, but as individuals start to accept alternate facts and hypotheses, those alternative facts start to take on a life of their own. The Department of Truth now steps forward.
The story’s reasoning can appear muddled and complicated at times. One would counter that reading a book on conspiracy theories naturally results in feelings of uncertainty and incomprehensibility, but that begs the question: was this intentional, or are there huge plot holes to be probed in the metaphysics of the storyworld? Since we haven’t yet discovered any evidence that makes the links necessary for us to comprehend the interactions between and among belief, truth, and reality, my instincts lean toward the latter. The reality-bending conundrums that Cole Tuner, the protagonist, replicated in his responses and attitudes frequently left me perplexed. Turner is stopped by men in black suits, questioned, and then given the opportunity to work for the Department.Needless to say, he reluctantly takes the job offer before starting his journey into the biggest rabbit hole of them all. As the story progresses, you start to realise that there is no bottom, or rather that the bottom is made up of a complex and ensnaring web. There are some revelations in the first volume that will keep you turning pages to get to the bottom of this rabbit hole. Turner must battle both tangible and metaphorical personal demons as a result of his investigation into the nature of truth, all the while attempting to make sense of the different enigmatic personalities who enter the fray. I’m not sure if Tynion is attempting to make the point that it’s a mess or not.
The Department of Truth’s chaotic and enigmatic graphic style, created by Simmonds, highlights its perplexing metaphysics. The work tries to depict a strange aesthetic that is detached from what things actually look like and more focused in what they should look like in a world where reality is always changing to fit our preconceived notions. The graphics are stunning and beautiful as isolated panels, but as comics or sequential art, which are always viewed in relation to one another, the images appear lifeless and stagnant. Your eyes are caught and released by each panel or splash, creating a feverishly convulsive reading experience because of the stasis.This stasis can be interpreted as either a jerky, hallucinatory experience that makes us wonder if we’re somehow reading someone else’s dream or as a kind of hieroglyphic reading experience where the pictures seem too static and still.
The colours are volatile; in the most horrifying scenes of the novel, searing reds stand in stark contrast to deep blacks, while other times, when the characters are recalling more everyday incidents in their life, the colours veer into more recognisable hues. One of the most intriguing and creative aspects of the artwork is dialogue and thinking bubbles, which rarely have outlines that match the bubbles’ or captions’ actual contents.
The result is a visual destabilisation of what is said, written, seen, and understood in the storyworld, which serves to further cloud our perception of what is real for us as readers.
The Department of Truth considers complex issues about the nature of truth and offers insight into how it emerges in the world. It goes so far as to include every conspiracy theory that has ever been proposed, from QAnon to the J.F.K. assassination, and everything in between. I’m not totally sure, though, that the comic adequately handles all of the confusion and bewilderment about how truth works. Relativity appears to be a guiding metaphysical force in The Department of Truth, according to the narrative. This form of morality, as presented by the comic’s narrative, equalises the playing field between the truth and conspiracies.On the one hand, it implies that harmful ideas are genuine; this may be true to the extent that when individuals truly believe anything, they will act on or with that incorrect thought in their heads or in their ethics as they navigate through the world. On the other hand, it also implies that conspiracies are true, legitimate, and on an even playing field with the truth in terms of ontological stability and veracity. I also question whether a bureaucratic government institution is the best defence against hazardous conspiracies coming to pass. Although I have my doubts, to put it mildly, I hope the plot ultimately challenges this kind of resolution.