By Daniel Vlasaty
Who killed the smartest man on earth…?
Dept H. is billed as a murder mystery and it is that, but also so much more. It’s the story of family and loss and adventure and science and discovery and exploration – from the farthest reaches of the universe to the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean. To the underwater caves home to strange creatures, giant turtles and tentacled things and sea spiders that can mimic human voices much like parrots.
Mia Hardy is sent by USEAR (Underwater Science Exploration and Research) to investigate the murder of her father, the man who designed and created the underwater base. He was killed in an “accident” at the bottom of the ocean and USEAR is concerned that there may be a mole on the base and that Mia’s father’s death was an act of sabotage.
Mia is met almost immediately with hostility when she arrives on the base. These people are her family and friends, people she’s known her whole life through her and her father’s work.
No one wants to help her and everyone swears that it was only an accident that killed her father. That she wasn’t there and she has no right to be there now.
It’s a locked-room mystery. If her father was in fact murdered it was one of the seven other people on the base that killed him.
On top of this, strange things are happening to the base. Possibly other acts of sabotage. There are floods and encounters with strange sea creatures and some kind of unexplained contamination and all Mia wants to do if figure out what happened to her father.
The story is what any good underwater horror/mystery story should be. It is tense and claustrophobic as shit. Everyone is up to something and Mia can’t trust anyone. Not her former best friend or even her own brother.
The art, also by Kindt – with amazing water coloring by Sharlene Kindt, only adds to the claustrophobic feel to the story. If you’re not familiar with Kindt’s art it’s a weird combination of simple and complex.
I picked up issue #1 when it first came out and liked it, but for some reason, I never went back to pick up issue #2. I’m not 100% sure if that’s good or bad, though. While I did thoroughly enjoy this book, I think it might have worked better reading it as a collection, as opposed to waiting a month between each issue.
Dept. H vol. 1: Pressure
Writer/Artist: Matt Kindt
Colors: Sharlene Kindt
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics