Writer/artist Matt Kindt has said his new Dark Horse comic book series Dept.H was inspired by 1970s G.I. Joes, Fisher Price Adventure People toys, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Jacques Cousteau, and you can feel all of that come through in Issue #1 of the series, available in comic book stores this month. Even the patch on the underwater crew outfits is black and red, and with design lines you’d see the Department H patch twisted back into the classic G.I. Joe Adventure Team patch. It’s stamped on all the players in this underwater murder mystery story and queues the adventure that awaits readers. And we easily see the SP-350 diving saucer from the famed Calypso in the craft that takes the series lead to the depths of the ocean floor in the opening pages.
Multiple Eisner Award nominee Kindt, best known for his run on his Mind MGMT series, writes and illustrates the story, with color work supplied by wife Sharlene. The series opener begins with a slow build to lay the groundwork for the mystery and introduction of Mia, who has been asked to find the mole in the undersea lab, a mole who is believed to have murdered her father. It’s an Agatha Christie-inspired closed room case, as all suspects are still living in the deep-sea lab. Yet Kindt’s careful writing leads you to believe he may have already given us more than enough clues to solve the murder in his panel images and subtext.
With its excellent pulp noir novel-style cover, low lighting and narration, call it the first undersea noir comic book series. It also evokes movies like the Abyss, Leviathan, and Sphere.
As with his Mind MGMT series, Kindt’s artistic style won’t appeal to all readers, yet the watercolors take over where the pencil work itself might not deliver, to provide the minimal visual narrative necessary to give the reader the desire to stay engaged.
With only its first issue on the stands, we think this one will be worth adding to your comic book shop pull list. Get it at Elite Comics or your local comic book store now.