Human beings love patterns. It’s hardwired into our primitive brains to see patterns everywhere. It’s the reason we see Jesus in a tortilla, or horsies in clouds. Being able to follow patterns in the dirt allowed our ancestors to be hunters, and modern man to design cities. Recognizing patterns was essential for our evolution, and even today it’s a skill that keeps us safe and thriving.
The problem, however, that that same ability to see patterns that are there, also frequently allows us to see patterns that are not. Just like the potato chip that grandma says looks like Abe Lincoln, people with a drive to see things that are not really there have plenty to chose from to look at in this world, and that’s where conspiracy theories come from.
Like a lot of young boys growing up in the 90s, I went through a phase where I was obsessed with conspiracy theories. Aliens, secret societies, secret Nazi occult rituals; basically I was history channel’s target demographic for several years. I’d spend hours and hours at the library, pre internet days mind you, digging through the handful of books about the occult, alien abductions, crop circles, and any other spooky pseudo history I could find. It was fun, and made me feel like I was in on stuff that everyone else didn’t even know existed. It gave me a sense of power at a time when I felt pretty overwhelmed by life in general.
And the mass media fueled that craving for the bizarre. Not only did we have the history channel and it’s slow decline into madness, we also had The X-Files, Millennium, Unsolved Mysteries, and of course the Time Life Book series of the Unexplained, not to mention a ton of other documentaries and movies that all highlighted the supposed “secret history” of the world.
As I got older, I lost a lot of interest in conspiracy theories (strangely right around the time I became interested in girls), and as I entered adulthood I stopped looking for patterns that were never there in the first place. Unfortunately, while I grew up and moved on, a lot of other people did not.
Today conspiracy theories have surged back into the mainstream, but instead of being fun and goofy yarns about secret alien bases and the real source of Stonehenge, they have instead become embroiled in racist, misogynistic, and quite frankly ludicrous nonsense. Conspiracy theories have gotten darker, and more dangerous, and sadly politicians who would have rolled their eyes at conspiracy theories years ago are now cautious about denying anything that might set off their rabid bases, and pay careful lip service to online trolls and message board warriors. But the question is, why?
It’s not like the theories have become any saner or logical, in anything the theories have instead become more and more ludicrous! Insane nonsense that can easily be disproved by the most basic of math, science, or logic, and yet, they persist. And the adherents of these beliefs, having been given a voice by greedy demagogues and the world wide interwebs, are now waging a war for the hearts and minds of the citizens of the world in a way that has never before been seen. It’s madness!
Which means now is the perfect time to take the piss out of conspiracy theories everywhere! This week I’m reviewing The Department of Truth, a brand new, ongoing series for superstar author James Tynion IV and artist extraordinaire Martin Simmonds.
Here’s the blurb:
Cole Turner has studied conspiracy theories all his life, but he isn’t prepared for what happens when he discovers that all of them are true, from the JFK assassination to flat Earth theory and reptilian shapeshifters. One organization has been covering them up for generations. What is the deep, dark secret behind the Department of Truth? Bestselling writer JAMES TYNION IV (Batman, Something is Killing the Children) debuts his first Image ONGOING SERIES alongside breakout artist MARTIN SIMMONDS (Dying is Easy)!
Why do we believe in conspiracy theories? For Cole Turner, the protagonist of The Department of Truth, that’s easy to understand. People believe in conspiracy theories because it gives them a sense of power in a crazy world, but while Turner thinks the people who believe those theories are just sad, lonely people looking for meaning, things quickly change when he ends up hitching a ride to the end of the world, and discovering that everything can be true, if you believe in it.
Which is why the Department of Truth exists, to make sure that people stop believing!
When I first heard the premise for this book I was intrigued, and when I saw the art I was in love. I am very, very excited to recommend this book this week! Anyone who is following Tynion’s Batman run right now knows two things about him: 1. He can handle an overly complicated plot with effortless ease, and 2. No one tells a story like James Tynion IV.
The first issue of The Department of Truth had me on the edge of my seat, and I mean literally. The artwork is breathtaking, the implications of the plot are dizzying, and the three shots of rum I had beforehand were tasty but probably not the best choice before reading a book like this.
The story was so engrossing I went back and read it a second time just to catch everything I missed the first time, and I still feel like I missed a lot. It’s crazy to think that a single first issue could have as many twists and turns as this book does, and yet somehow I was constantly surprised and amazed, right up until the end! There is so much going on here and its only issue 1!
I really, really want to spoil a lot in The Department of Truth, but I can’t bring myself to do it. It’s just too good to ruin. If you didn’t pick this book up I highly recommend it. I have a really, really good feeling this book is on it’s way to being up there with indie darlings like Saga and The Walking Dead, and if I heard tomorrow Netflix had snagged the rights for the TV show I would not be surprised at all.
I know it’s the title of the article, but seriously, READ THIS BOOK.
Now, I just saw a black car pull up out front and some large men in suits get out, so I’m diving out the window, and I’ll see you all next week from my secret woodland bunker!
Stay safe! AND WATCH THE SKIES!!!!!