Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 09/30/2020

You ever have one of those weeks when it’s Wednesday and the rest of it just seems foreboding?

That’s where I am this week. Maybe it’s the rising COVID numbers; maybe it’s the bleakness of the rest of the year, but at the same time, I have to say, reality is looking pretty grim, and the hint of the days to come bear little hope.

I’m saddened by this because my family is all about hope. Hell, that’s what we named our youngest. We live for hope, but to be frank when reality is telling you that there is little hope to come, then it definitely affects your mindset.

Reality is truth, and truth is on my mind. Whether that’s for good or ill … well, I’ll let you decide. But it should come as no surprise that a comic titled The Department of Truth catches my attention this during my comic-reading this week.

The Department of Truth #1 (IMAGE COMICS, James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds, Aditya Bidikar, Dylan Todd, Steve Foxe) is a comic that tells a story that features the bleakness of society to maintain itself in the advent of all sorts of media pressures. Unlike other comics that focus on the existence of organizations that exist within strange realms, this is one that strenuously maintains the importance of reassuring normality and lives within normality in doing so.

I … kinda like that.

I mean, I’m in an occupation that sometimes defies normality. Good teaching actually reinforces good parenting … that’s been empirically proven. But there are some parents who are so at odds with their child’s behaviour that they adopt extreme measures to keep their kid in check. Yet, what works at home doesn’t necessarily translate to what works in the classroom. Thus, they seek special exemption. However, when a teacher is in a microcosm like a classroom, to accomplish what he or she needs to within a 45-minute period AND assuage other kids in the meantime, just doesn’t work with all the additional duties that are required in a classroom setting. There is a perceived imbalance that resonates within the collective minds of the students and there is a need for an overriding standard for all to adhere.

I feel the stresses on my own normality and I yearn for a champion like my own The Department of Truth.

Of course, James Tynion IV has the chops to tell a story like this. With his background in Batman, Hellblazer, The Woods this guy knows how to write stories that not only challenge our perceptions of reality but also force us to challenge our own definitions of that perception. Believe it or not, reality warping helps us deal with what we see every day and to make sense of it.

He doesn’t disappoint. With the words uttered by the infamous Lee Harvey Oswald: “Up is down and down is up”, the stage is set for the audience to start their trip down the rabbit hole through the eyes of hapless FBI instructor, Cole Turner. An unlikely hero, Cole is a prisoner in the control of an unnamed organization. He is a teacher, gay and physically un-intimidating. He is certainly the least person an audience would imagine to be the centre of the story.

However, he has a perspective, based on empirical evidence in which he has seen things … things that explain the immunity of facts that segments of society can somehow develop. He proffers theories as to why this can happen; theories that actually seem to make sense. Why people would appreciate why COVID-19 is not a real thing; why former President Obama (a president for two terms) is thought to be a Muslim and not born in the US; and why one person seems to be thought of as a successful businessman … and not a tax evader and draft dodger.

Sorry – was that too political?

If so, then regardless, it ties well into the essence of this book. The Department of Truth is about maintaining the disbelief in these fringe thoughts that threaten the fabric of American society. However, when it comes to the office of the American president, it’s not just about American society but about the stability of the rest of the world. The USA has the greatest capacity for influence in global humanitarianism, peace-keeping, and political influence in the world. In order to gain the national support for these global initiatives, then there has to be someone or some entity in charge of establishing what exactly is common belief.

What a concept. I love it. Not only does it feed into my imagination but it also fights against the ridiculous pseudo-scientific influences that seek to de-stabilize common sense and affect perceptions of reality. I mean, it’s the stream of thought, that defies scientific rationale, that flies in the face of what is not just established and accepted but combats the ill-informed and poorly-educated who seem to dictate a solid percentage of the population that determine the electoral process in the United States.

Whoo.

Sorry – guess this has more political ramifications than I realized. I went off on a bit of a tear there. I suppose I’m completely manifesting my raised Canadian nature.

But there is a real sense of chaos out there. On the night of the debate between an experienced and office-holding politician versus a self-glorified, failed businessman demagogue who managed to delude the American public into electing him president, the direction of this debate has serious consequences. This comic has more significance than what it probably anticipated in its inception and the night of its release.

Just an example of how resonant a medium comics are than people realize, I suppose.

With regards to the art, I’m personally not a fan of escapist, abstract styled work. It’s disorienting, diverse and detracts away from what readers like me would expect. However, and this needs to be emphasized, this is the art that is needed for this comic. The entire notion of challenging established reality (the moon landing, the flat-Earth theory, et. al.) is the basis for why this art totally works.

I can’t say I’m devoted to Martin Simmonds’ work, but his style does emphasize the discordant nature of this subject. It definitely unbalances your senses and, in that respect, it’s a powerful force that has an effect upon the reader. Whether you like it or not, that’s a talent that goes beyond personal preferences. There isn’t another artist I could think of for this book and that’s a testament to the raw power of art, and in this case it’s a power that lends itself to the comic’s message.

Combatting dis-information is the balm to the level of grim foreboding that we all feel in the middle of the week. Let’s face it folks: we need truth. We need a Department of Truth. Doesn’t that feel comforting?

The Department of Truth #1 is my pick of the week. The concept is unsettling, but during a world pandemic and an American Presidential Debate, isn’t truth a crucial idea to set our minds at ease? Actually, I’m going to ask this: do we want truth? Truth denies attacks on integrity, hypocrisy, and attacks on the American ideal. Speaking for myself, I want truth. I find comfort in truth. I hope Americans find the same.

I’ll be honest, we need some sort of organization to keep the USA in the realm of common sense. Hopefully, this comic will have an influence on minds of those like-minded people and the good-minded people of the United States will see the sense of that.

Truth needs to reign supreme. I get that. I witness truth all the time, only to have it superseded by people who are not in my classroom. I need The Department of Truth and that’s why it’s my pick of the week!

Be truthful … always. It’s the right thing to do.

Until next week!

Pick of the Week: The Department of Truth #1

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About Captain John K. Kirk

Captain John K. Kirk
John Kirk is an English and History teacher and librarian in Toronto, Canada. In addition to the traditional curriculum, John tries to teach his students to make sense of geek culture. And with the name "J. Kirk," it's hard for him to not inject "Star Trek" into his lessons. Comics, RPGs and the usual fanboy gear make up his classroom resources.