cover image The End of the World (The Department of Truth #1)

The End of the World (The Department of Truth #1)

James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds. Image, $9.99 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-5343-1833-5

This twisty paranoid thriller follows a secret government organization devoted to “making sure that conspiracy theories stay conspiracy theories.” Cole, an FBI researcher, gets recruited to the shady Department of Truth and is paired with Ruby, a seasoned agent. Initiated into the reality-warping revelation that “the more people believe in something, the more true that thing becomes,” they race to stop Satanic sacrifices, Reptilian invasions, a flat Earth, and dark alternate histories of America from becoming real. Simmonds’s streaky painted art, strongly reminiscent of Bill Sienkiewicz, gives the series the feel of a classic 1990s Vertigo comic, as does the nightmarish X-Files-like atmosphere. The plot, though, takes a while to coalesce and sometimes wanders into simply describing conspiracy theories and how they work. In the age of QAnon, a thriller about cultlike thinking feels exceedingly relevant, but it’s sometimes uncomfortable that the comic jams seriously dangerous beliefs like school shooting “false flags” against fringe goofiness like tinfoil hats and dark doings at the Denver International Airport. But it’s a visual treat, and the setup has the potential for further uncanny adventures, provided the story can gel. (Mar.)