Short Cuts 69: The Department of Truth Vol. 4 – The Ministry Of Lies; Manor Black; Basilisk Vol. 2

The Department of Truth Vol. 4: The Ministry of Lies
James Tynion IV, writer; Martin Simmonds, artist; Aditya Bidikar, letterer
Image Comics, 2022

As the subtitle indicates, this arc revolves around the decades-long secret war the Department of Truth fought against the Soviet Ministry of Lies. The story begins with Lee Harvey Oswald declaring victory while talking to Grigori Petrov, his Soviet counterpart. Lee says the Cold War is over, but Grigori has his doubts. Next thing we know Black Hat Martin Barker introduces himself to Grigori…and later Grigori is found murdered, which Lee interprets as a message from Barker. Meanwhile, Hawk has shown Cole Turner’s husband Matty proof of how deeply he has been influenced by Oswald, also introducing him to others in Black Hat. Cole convinces Lee that there is a way to use Matty’s involvement to their advantage: the last scene finds Lee telling Matty to publish the real story of the Department of Truth in the Washington Post, hopefully saving the world in the process. It will certainly be interesting to see where this goes.

Manor Black
Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt, writers; Tyler Crook, art & lettering
Dark Horse Books, 2020

The manor house of the title is the home of a powerful family of sorcerers. Patriarch Roman Black knows that his extended life span (almost 200 years) is about to come to an end, but is not happy about any of his corrupt children heading up the family in his stead. Freakish things start happening with fire–including the town sheriff spontaneously combusting–when a young woman named Ari appears on the manor grounds seeking sanctuary. She had been pursued by what the sorcerers refer to as “wild magicians,” and is supposed to be the guardian of a powerful fire totem (which explains the fire incidents). In the end Ari manages to contain the totem, and we find out that one of Roman’s children is colluding with the wild magicians to take control of the family. It is very much an unfinished story, so I am happy to see that a second arc is presently in progress. These creators are responsible for Harrow County and The Sixth Gun (a couple of my favorite horror comics), so I am surprised I overlooked this one. I’m glad I did, because now I don’t have a long wait to see what happens next.

Basilisk Vol. 2
Cullen Bunn, writer; Jonas Scharf, illustrator; Alex Guimarães, colorist
BOOM! Studios, 2022

The second arc begins with Hannah and Regan pursuing the remaining Chimera. Regan is opposed to it, but then she begins to hear voices: she has inherited the fallen Chimera Manny’s auditory gift. But when Hannah kills John-Boy, his gift goes to Vanessa instead, strengthening the Chimera…and then she takes Cara’s power as well (she had heard one of Manny’s last messages, which mentioned a sacrifice). So, there is a Highlander-style “there can be only one” theme developing. Vanessa calls Hannah and Regan back to the town of Kingsly, where the Chimera first emerged and killed Hannah’s family. Their conflict does not settle anything, but it looks as though the third collection will bring the story to its conclusion.

About marksullivan5

Freelance Journalist & Musician; Senior Contributor, All About; writing on comics at & No Flying, No
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