Where issue #1 of Department of Truth set the table, issue #2 begins to dig into the inner workings of conspiracies and how Cole has been a part of one his entire life.
This second issue uncovers the unfortunate truth that, through media or hearsay, we’ve all been a part of some sort of conspiracy theory. Oftentimes, it isn’t out of some sinister plot we want to be a part of, but more so just the susceptibility of being human… the idea that a simple theory could explain the chaotic nature that is life. What doesn’t help are the few events when there seem to be subsequent data that encourage the conspiracy to fester. Perfect example: there are a subset of people that believe there is an antenna in Alaska that is used for mind-control. In reality, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) is used to get information about natural processes at the edge of the atmosphere as per Smithsonian Magazine. But, that doesn’t stop people from believing that there is some sinister plot, especially when tying it to MK Ultra, which was an actual government project in search of chemical interrogation and mind-control techniques. That project, coincidentally has spawned a whole slew of conspiracy theories itself. Cole, the lead in Department of Truth is making attempts to untie the knots of his childhood that seeded various conspiracy theories.
In the first couple pages, we learn that Cole has discussed with Matty (his partner) something he would like to get to the bottom of: Starface. It’s clear that, at least up until the point before he saw some conspiracies come to life, Cole believed that Starface was just some nightmare. But now, Cole knows that there is the chance for something sinister creeping just below the surface. The way Tynion IV and Simmonds introduce and then proceed to peel back the importance of Starface as it pertains to the Department of Truth, but also to Cole, was a difficult task they seemed to pull off effortlessly.
In essence, we are Cole as the reader. We are learning alongside Cole that what he’s experienced has been experienced by others and further reinforces his attitude toward what he thought at one point was just a nightmare. Learning a bit of the woman in red with x’s for eyes was also a nice tease as she is surely to pop up being the devil and all.
The one thing that always sticks out is how they bring in, and make examples of, current conspiracy theories. In this issue specifically, they talk about the more fervent theories around Democrats, Pizzagate, etc. These comparisons, especially since they are so fresh and dominate our airwaves, are a great way to ground a story that initially seems out there.
Department of Truth shows these demonic-like characters in a scratch painting technique but have clear metaphorical connotations in real life. While we might not have evil men with pentagrams scratched into their faces, it leaves a lasting impression of the strong likelihood of sinister people furthering equally sinister plots in our actual lives.
In DoT, Cole’s mental break can go in two very disparate directions. He can either further rely on the DoT and the layers they’ve already peeled back, or he can succumb to the demons that have been infiltrating him as a kid. This choice is one we all make, which is what in turn makes DoT so powerful. Conspiracy Theories are everywhere and we make conscious choices as to which ones to believe and to discard. It begs the question, though, as to how much we have been influenced vs have actually made the choice on our own.
Be sure to check out our first Infiltrating Department of Truth with issue #1.