Comic Review: Department of Truth
Publisher Website: James Tynion IV (Author), Martin Simmonds (Artist)
This comic book is just a bit TOO relevant.
Hints of: Like a really fucked up Elf or other 'believe in Santa Clause' movie. (I promise this will make sense in a bit)
Warning: Conspiracy theories abound. So if you're not into that stuff turn back now
Cole Turner has studied conspiracy theories all his life, but he isn’t prepared for what happens when he discovers that all of them are true, from the JFK Assassination to Flat Earth Theory and Reptilian Shapeshifters. One organization has been covering them up for generations. What is the deep, dark secret behind the Department of Truth?
If enough people believe in something then inevitably that something will become true. Thats the mantra "Department of Truth" holds onto in Vol 1: The End of the World.
Cole Turner, like the synopsis states, studies conspiracy theories for the CIA. Focusing on far right extremist groups that live work and play in the deep dark corners of the internet. While being questioned by a strange duo of black suited characters, he's asked about his attendance at the Flat Earther Convention. Cole recalls him being wisked away by the "leaders" of the group to be shown "the truth". Sitting on a plane that was bound for the edge of the world. He was shown a film about all of their beliefs. Qanon, 9/11 Truthers, Satanic Rituals, the whole gambit has been an extremely complex interwoven web of lies and truths that is now being revealed to Cole. Until he was told to look out the window and there it was...the edge of the world. Thats all Cole can remember and tells the two strangers questioning him. Cole believes he's seen something he wasn't supposed to and now here is the government to come kill him. However what he doesn't yet know is he's just been introduced and hired by the "Department of Truth" lead by none other than Lee Harvey Oswald (the guy who "killed" JFK).
The Department of Truth monitors and maintains our natural order that we know. Has there ever been a time in your life when you swore something was what you thought it was. Maybe a song lyric, or an event happened a certain way, or a statue at the airport that you swore showed Ronald Regan waving...Department of Truth maintains certain conspiracy theories so that they don't get too mainstream. Because in this world, like in ours, if enough people believe it, it actually comes true.
Throughout the whole volume one conspiracy theory is delved into detail because of it's connection to a young Cole Turner. The Satanic Ritual scares of the 1980s was a time in America when the public was terrified their kids were being taught by devil worshippers and the like. Cole as a child was one of those interviewed by the FBI to reveal the truth behind these allegations. He told stories of his teacher performing strange ceremonies like sacrificing goats right in front of the whole class! Of course...Cole was only about 7-8 and was probably just repeating what he's heard on the news the night before. But it felt so real to Cole at the time and even now he still feels like he sees the Devil in shadows. Yet the Department of Truth has been monitoring the development of this exact conspiracy theory. We can't just have the actual Devil roaming the streets of America! They reveal to Cole that the Satanic Rituals grew from the Red Scare during the Cold War, which in turn assisted the QANON belief that Democrats were holding child sex rings under a pizza parlor in DC to honor Satan (that's actually true). But even through all this evidence of the contrary, Cole still feels a creeping thought that there might just be some truth to all this.
The comic ends with Oswald and Turner listening in on a conversation between two journalists. One of them has received a cryptic folder of information regarding a department of the US government that denies it's citizens the access to documentation of certain known conspiracy theories. This would open up the notion that we aren't being told the entire truth about certain events. It would end the known world as we know it (bit cliche but go with it). The editor isn't convinced until the journalist reveals that this department is actually in the next room listening to everything they've been saying. Welp...now they have to be killed. Oswald asks Cole to perform the assassination so that this information doesn't get out in the public. Cole knows he has to do this. Without this department's secrecy, conspiracy theories could run rampant and become truth. Thats not possible. Cole agrees and when the two journalists entre their hotel room its revealed all the paranoia they thought to be true actually was. What a relief. When Cole pulls the gun on them the editor asks "You're the good guys, right?" to Cole's response of "I Think so."
Department of Truth is an absolute wild ride. Mixing reality with fiction and really getting you to question just the nature of your lived experiences. Its so fascinating the history behind some of these theories and the nuggets of truth hidden inside each of them. The exploitation of those nuggets written in such a way to really make you believe them is what got me hyped about this comic. If you have even a remote suspicion or interest in conspiracy theories this is a comic you should pick up. Tynion IV has written some really incredible stuff lately but him and Simmonds knocked this out of the park. So far only one volume has been published but a second is set to be released October 5th, 2021. I know I'm looking forward to continuing Cole's journey with this strange Department.