This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on March 24, 2017.
The unfortunate side effect of living in a world with so much great entertainment is that it’s not difficult to let something truly spectacular pass beneath your radar. We’re already in the midst of a spectacular year for movies and each month of 2017 has delivered some spectacular new comics. So it’s easy to think that you’d be better off ignoring a series that is already 12 issues into its run and halfway over. However, you’d be wrong in thinking that.
Dept. H, the underwater mystery crafted by Matt and Sharlene Kindt, has reach the end of its second arc and is preparing to go on hiatus before it being the second half of its story. Just like Kindt’s previous Dark Horse title Mind MGMT, it’s a carefully crafted story where each chapter delivers new revelations in issues designed by Kindt from cover to cover. The instinct for many comics readers might be to trade wait or allow the series to finish before checking it out, but that’s a misgiving notion. This is why you need to dive into Dept. H as soon as possible.
Matt Kindt is a Modern Comics Genius
There’s ample hyperbole in the world of American comics, but this is one statement we can stand by today, tomorrow, and twenty years from now. The work that Matt Kindt is producing will stand the test of time as something that pushes boundaries and inspires a new generation of creators. Everyone is looking for the next Kirby or Wrightson, and that doesn’t start with the those imitating their works. Kindt is defining his own style or artwork and storytelling in a fashion that lives up to the legacy of comics most beloved creators.
It’s worth going back and reading his existing works like Mind MGMT and Revolver, but Kindt is an artist who has yet to reach his peak. Dept. H is a comic that shows just what this powerhouse is capable of both in small units and in constructing a grander story. The joy of discovering an artist as they work through a piece cannot be understated and that’s something we call all watch in the pages of this series.
The Thrill of Monthly Comics
One thing we’ve noticed in our weekly spotlights of local comics stores is how many have noted audiences drifting away from monthly comics and towards collections. That’s fair in many instances, but Dept. H makes the case for picking up new installments of a story on a monthly basis. Kindt understands the joy of receiving a story in small chapters and designs his work to deliver with each new segment.
Dept. H is designed to work as a complete story, as collections of 6 issues, and single installments. Every new release offers something that feels complete within its own pages. They’re all designed well beyond those boundaries too with expansive covers and backmatter that will thrill fans of the story. Of course the beautiful hardcovers are worth snagging for library shelves as well, at a very affordable $19.99. That doesn’t diminish the joy of finding a new issue of Dept. H at your store each month though.
A Mystery Worth Unraveling
The conceit that Dept H. was sold on at its launch was a young woman traveling miles beneath the sea to solve the murder of her father. While the story has sprawled in many unexpected ways from that premise, the mystery remains intact. There are issues of biological warfare, technological advancement, and old family grudges in play as well, but the heart of this story is a locked room mystery. It’s a story so classic that it never really grows old and Kindt has found a brand new way to present it in these pages.
In the second arc of Dept. H he has found a brilliant way to layer this mystery by focusing each issue on a different character, moving the current narrative ahead while exploring possible motives. Readers come to empathize with all of the suspects while their theories are advanced. This is the brilliance of Dept. H as it becomes more than a simply whodunnit, choosing to question the whys and wherefores as well. Kindt is telling the best mystery story in comics today and it’s well worth checking out before any answers might be spoiled for you.
Nobody creates a comics page like Matt and Sharlene Kindt. Nobody. Pick up any issue of Dept. H and you’ll notice how well they define their characters, the details put into each design, and how the watercolors add to the oppressive underwater existence of the story. No matter how frightening or claustrophobic any issue of this series becomes, there’s still a spark of wonder to be found as you explore the pages themselves.
It’s what happens when you look at a Wrightson illustration of Frankenstein or a Kurtzman drawing of the Korean War: No matter how ugly the subject matter becomes, the mastery of story still inspires the imagination. That’s not to say this underwater world is without wonders. Strange squids offer brilliant colors and technology blossoms in unexpected ways. Dept. H is filled with discovery and every page brings something new for readers to explore.
A Proven Record of Quality
Dept. H is just reaching its halfway point. Many other comics have gotten this far with beautiful artwork and enthralling stories, only to lose their momentum. They might take too long to come out or forget what made them great. So why invest in Dept. H before it is all over? Because there’s absolutely no reason to doubt the creators behind it.
The most obvious reason lies within the pages of Mind MGMT, which was also written and drawn by Matt Kindt in 6-issue arcs. It featured all of the promise of Dept. H and delivered a finale that was every bit as good as its start. This goes for just about every other comics project Kindt has had control of too. Whether you’re discussing his creator-owned work like Revolver or his superhero series at Valiant Comics, when Kindt is in charge of a story, it both is delivered and delivers on a timely basis. There is no more consistent creator in American comics than Kindt, and his commitment and track record with the medium provide good reasons to check out Dept. H today.
Whether you’re looking for a great monthly read or to just discover a new story to while away the time with, you simply can’t do better than Dept. H.