REVIEW: ‘Department of Truth,’ Issue #3

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Department of Truth #3

Content Warning: The Department of Truth #3 deals with themes of large-scale emotional abuse, death threats, and gaslighting.

The Department of Truth #3 is published by Image Comics, written by James Tynion IV, art by Martin Simmonds, and letters by Aditya Bidikar. What could possibly make a parent’s life worse after losing their child to a shooting? Maybe the rage, hate, and harassment of a veritable legion of people who are convinced she’s lying about her son’s death for profit? Yeah, that’ll do it. And just how far can she be pushed before the lie begins to make sense to even her?

Previous stories in this series have dealt with mad obsessions and rampant paranoia, but The Department of Truth #3 hits home on an entirely different level. This story moves past the unfounded fears people can harbor, and explores the most vicious sides of human nature. When people, so self-absorbed with themselves, and so convinced that everything that happens in this world MUST revolve around them, will turn a great tragedy into a thing centered solely on themselves.

The hardest thing about this story is how I want to believe that no group could ever be so blatantly cruel. That no one could twist so terrible an event and use it to torture the very victims of the event that remain. Alas, I have been privy to far too many incidents of such misplaced vitriol to be so naive. In all the darkest ways, this story is truly a case of art imitating life.

The Department of Truth #3 introduces readers to Mary. Mary recently lost her son in a school shooting. Her world was shattered when she learned the news. But her pain was just beginning. Shortly thereafter, she began receiving hate mail and threats. These angry messages claim her son was never shot. That no one died, and that she is a part of a huge anti-gun conspiracy.

At first, Mary assumes these are someone’s idea of a sick joke. How could anyone doubt what had happened was real? But as the days and weeks go by, things don’t die down. They escalate. The volume and fury of the threats aimed at her only increases. With little to no recourse for herself, her world begins to break down. And that’s when she receives a package.

The entire story of The Department of Truth #3 is hard to wade through. As it follows Mary through her struggles and pain it forces the reader to look at an all too real glimpse of what people are capable of being. As Mary’s mind begins to fracture due to the large scale gaslighting she endures, my heart couldn’t help but break for her. And the solution delivered by the Department doesn’t do much for Mary in the end. There are no happily ever afters here.

The art here works perfectly for its narrative. The broken imagery and harsh colors Simmonds delivers not only captures the story but thoroughly enhances its emotional effects. Mary’s failing mental strength seems to resonate through every panel, further immersing the readers in the story’s world.

The final piece of the visual presentation is Bidikar’s lettering. The design of the dialogue boxes continues to complement the art perfectly. The creative team is clearly in perfect sync with the design of this book.

The only major struggle I have with The Department of Truth #3 is one question I cannot answer: What’s the point? With the way the story resolves itself, the reader can be left with some uncomfortable feelings about the book’s narrative. Was this written to try to shine a light on the sort of harassment and violence people suffer at the hands of others or did the book drag me through this muck for effect alone? Was this some sort of emotional trauma porn? I don’t think so, but there is a nagging feeling in the back of my skull that’s just a little unsure. I guess that’ll be for readers to decide.

The Department of Truth #3 is available now wherever comics are sold.

 

Department of Truth #3
4.5

TL;DR

The only major struggle I have with The Department of Truth #3 is one question I cannot answer: What’s the point? With the way the story resolves itself, the reader can be left with some uncomfortable feelings about the book’s narrative