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Review: Dept. H #1

STL001111This is the story of Mia as she is sent down to the undersea science facility known as “Dept. H” to investigate the murder of her father. The title is very clever. Stop reading there.

First, let’s start by saying that the art is amazing. The textures of the paper, the faded tones of the watercolor, it all gives this book a delightfully vintage look and that makes it fun to flip through. It is a wonderful demonstration of the Matt & Sharlene Kindt team. If only one thing could be said about this book, it’s that it is a visual work of art and enough truth would be in that statement to let it go.

However, if a second consideration was required, it would be hard to look away from how this story feels forced. Half the book consists of Mia visiting men who tell her she shouldn’t go down to Dept. H only for her to dryly assert that she will, in fact, go down there. It feels like a dry reading of a script that the actor’s aren’t really excited to be a part of. Considering the book begins with Mia going down there, and these scenes are all in the past, they serve only to slow the story from taking off.

“But isn’t exciting to see a truly gifted investigator solve a case that effects them so personally?” you ask. Yeah, maybe. And if Mia were the Sherlock Holmes of undersea facilities, that might take you somewhere. However, it’s stated that the real reason for sending her down there is that it is personal for her. It’s almost as if to say, “Yeah, we have a really good private investigator, law enforcement should go down there and ask some questions and God knows our insurance company would typically send a team of people down there to ascertain liability… but it turns out nobody really cares so we’re just sending his daughter. You’re free, right?”

After that, Mia meets the crew, she goes alone to investigate the crime scene because no one cares enough personally or professionally to go with her to see their dead co-worker floating around their workplace, and then she comes back and we meet the crew again. The saddest part is the revelation that her father was apparently Steve Zissou from The Life Aquatic.

Now, this may sound like nitpicking. However, this is a main character who doesn’t stand out on her own and must shoehorn in supporting characters from her personal life in an attempt to try to make her accessible rather than interacting with the crew who will be the book’s suspects. It’s like offering personal references on a resume. Sure, they may give some fantastic insight in to who you are, but no one really knows them and we’ll probably never hear from them again.

All in all, this a great book to flip through, to encourage an aspiring artist. If you are looking for plot or character development, this book has little depth.

Disagree? Hate that last pun? Tell me in the comments below or on Twitter.

Story & Art: Matt Kindt Art: Sharlene Kindt
Story: 4 Art 8: Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review