A Haunting Look Inside Department of Truth, a Comic Thriller Where Every Conspiracy Is True

Nothing is true, everything is permitted.
Nothing is true, everything is permitted.
Image: Martin Simmons/Image Comics

Whether we want to or not, we live in a world where conspiracy theories are more prevalent (and dangerous to discourse) than ever, from the ugly rise of QAnon to bizarre hoaxes trying to link the novel coranavirus to 5G wireless signals. But Image’s newest thriller imagines a world where the most infamous conspiracy theories in history are real.

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Department of Truth, from writer James Tynion IV and artist Martin Simmonds, is set in a world where things like the truth behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy and flat-Earth theories aren’t just conspiracies, but facts about the world kept hidden from the public eye by the titular Department. But when theorist Cole Turner uncovers the Department’s existence, he finds himself thrust into an even wilder world of separating fact from fiction.

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“There’s an amazing moment that happens sometimes, as a writer, when you realize that you’ve been studying for a particular book your entire life. Where all of the little facts, and fascinations pool together in the back of your mind, with ideas about formats and styles, and a seed is planted and starts to grow,” Tynion told io9 in a statement over email. “I’ve always been fascinated by conspiracy theories, from the most outlandish, to the most grounded and plausible. But the books that pushed me over the edge were the ones I was reading to help understand the strange country I’m living in today. The Department of Truth is the product of a whole lot of curiosity, and a whole lot of uneasiness. Sometimes, when you look at the breadth of history and think about how much of it is true, and how much of it is a kind of myth perpetuated by the powerful voices of the day, you can feel a sense of vertigo. Truth starts feeling a lot more subjective. This is a comic book that leans hard into that vertigo feel. And it does it by emulating some of the comics that made me love comics in the first place.”

“Going on the huge amount of research James had already put together, and his obvious enthusiasm for the subject matter, it quickly became clear that The Department of Truth was going to be an ambitious and challenging project, and one that I had to be involved in,” Simmonds added in his own statement to io9. “The series covers a lot of ground, everything from flat-Earth theory through to the existence of Atlantis, so the possibilities for where this series can go spread far and wide in every direction. The entire creative team are putting everything into this series, and we’re all really excited for people see what we’ve been putting together.”

Check out a preview of Department of Truth’s first issue in the gallery below, as well as two bonus preview pages from Department of Truth #3, that are making their debut here on io9!

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But while Department of Truth traffics in some heady ideas, Tynion wanted to approach the series as something that wasn’t too wrapped up in one big arc, but instead engaged the idea of conspiracies in different ways each issue.

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“I didn’t want to do something overly plotty. I wanted to make a book that explores a big idea, the idea that every conspiracy theory has the potential to become ‘true’ if enough people believe in it, and come at it, issue by issue from different, fascinating angles,” Tynion’s statement continued. “There is a big, longform story that I am setting out to tell in this book with Martin, but I didn’t want to tell it straight up the middle. I wanted to make every individual issue a standalone work, that carries the stories of our lead character forward. Every issue is a jumping on point. Every issue explores a different conspiracy theory. They are meant to work on their own as well as they do together. It’s the most difficult and rewarding book I’ve ever written, and I am deeply, deeply proud of it.”

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The Department of Truth hits shelves on September 30.


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James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!

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DISCUSSION

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children.of.revolution

Looks interesting. The art reminds me of Bill Sienkiewicz.