Review by Frank Plowright
Department K was first seen in 2000AD Regened, the series aimed at younger readers, yet Rory McConville’s original idea was of an adult-oriented series. It’s theoretically set in Judge Dredd’s Mega-City One, but as their remit is the entire pantheon of alternate realities, that’s hardly a handle on the series. Perhaps more relevant is the leading character being named Kirby.
The concept of a small corner of the Justice Department whose remit is to monitor possible dangers from alternate dimensions is first seen through allocated intern Afua. She’s a newcomer thrown straight into the day to day madness of a viable background where almost anything can happen. There’s something satisfying about a small group nominally working from a little office in the Justice Department, but actually involved anywhere and everywhere. Mech Judge Esteban is Afua’s first contact as Kirby’s return is seen on PJ Holden’s sample art. The fourth member of the team is picked up just before they head into the beyond.
Ideas keep coming over the first two short adventures, which are entertaining enough, but it’s when the strip is given an extended run that it comes to greater life. With more space to breathe McConville can develop the cast a little more rather than just rushing them through a crisis, although the energy levels remain high.
Mixing adventure and humour for younger readers Department K is pleasingly old school, although steps away from custom by both leading characters being black women. Both Holden and Dan Cornwell on the longer story have traditional storytelling styles, with Carlos Ezquerra an influence, while the spirit of Jack Kirby is prevalent both in the design work and the idea of there being something out there more powerful than humanity. Both artists supply the required thrill power, and on the basis of these opening adventures, Department K is a series with legs, and new adventures have continued to appear.