If you’re in the market for a non-superhero, creator-owned comic book and you’ve not picked up anything from Dark Horse Comics in a while, Mind MGMT is the fuckin’ way forward. (sorry Mom, I used a big boy word!)
Whether or not Matt Kindt is exactly what a modern comic book writer needs to be is a question best left to people who smoke cigars and drink cognac in rooms that smell of rich mahogany. Not all comics are meant to sell millions and pander to the masses, just as not all books etc are meant to be best-sellers. You’d be forgiven if you’ve never even heard of this book before, because the publisher really doesn’t have a behemoth marketing department like the bigger houses do. I guess we can all just imagine what it would’ve been like if this one became mainstream and got bought by a corporation and then chopped and changed and sexed up for a film adaptation, and then an animated series and then all the merch (that’s where the money’s at anyway right?) I wonder what the good Mr Kindt would say to that.
So, the story centres on Meru who’s suffering from writer’s passiveness despite putting out a best-seller two years prior. No, it isn’t writer’s block, because she isn’t unable to write what she feels in her heart, but rather, she just does not write (and who cant relate to that, right? Can I get an Amen from my atheist brothers?). The impetus for her action is a news story about the mysterious Flight 815. She calls her agent to tell him that she’s now off to solve the mystery of the enigmatic flight during which everyone on board lost their memories. Yes, despite that LOST reference, I swept away any concept of possibilities of cop-out endings and soldiered on with my reading mission and was (spoiler alert, snowflake,) happily rewarded.
I only heard about this book after a buddy recommended it, and in typically egotistical fashion, I assumed my pal was nudging me to finally produce some words as per my ‘writer/blogger’ status would require. As such, I gave myself a timeframe to finish the entire 36-issue run (3 years worth of material) in a way that would also allow me to finally play Lego Marvel Avengers and (suck at) Mortal Kombat on the PS4, shop for food, prepare food, do lovey-dovey stuff with the lady love, delay paying my bills and not exercise, i.e it had to fit in with my usual run of things. “Long story short,” do as I say, not as I do, young padawan, and do not force yourself to binge read this on your computer or digital device … get it on print motherfunka!!!!
Mind MGMT is a beautifully crafted story that spans a surprising number of time periods, locales, languages and motifs, which, some may argue, is what’s expected of an espionage-themed story, but it still manages to feel fantastic and gripping. A couple of issues in, after having my eyes opened to the various possibilities for artwork in comic books, I entertained the idea that Kindt’s artwork was meant to be an under-layer to the story. I like to wonder what the results would’ve been if we had some comic book artwork’s heavyweights on the creative team, because God damn…there are some real chunks of awesome on these pages. The watercolours are good, but what would happen if Kindt decided to appropriate sections of each issue to certain artwork styles. I take nothing away from his efforts, since I draw and write like shit, so fair play…no…no…. all hail Kindt! (It’s hard to be a critic of anything these days).
This is the era of overstimulation, and Kindt seemed to know about it ahead of time, when you consider how many different narratives are packed into each issue. Mind MGMT came out way back in the foul year 2012, far before bearded art nouveau babies cried into their gluten-free kale shakes, but still, it reads well now, in the 1984 that is 2017. There’s a good chance that you’re gonna dig this title, especially if you’ve got a poet’s heart and take pleasure in taking time out to appreciate little things that people often tend to completely miss. Maybe other reviewers have written about the inclusion of subtext on the sidelines of the actual pages, but I will not. Oh wait..I have just now done so. Moving on, there are myriad other jewels in this treasure box and since you’ve so kindly acquiesced to read a nobody’s blog, I will offer you some examples: — editorial notes from Meru’s editor, references to comic book artwork versus story content, references to some of the time’s most compelling pop culture and even the pursuance of the character naming process that was popularised by the likes of Stan ‘the Man’ Lee.
Matt Kindt demands a certain level of attention and cognition that other comic writers simply do not (like an agency broadcasting the signal to wake sleeper agents into action! *Mindblown*) and eagle-eyed readers will discover some rewarding revelations later on in the story. The final issue of the penultimate arc was one of the story’s highpoints, with a vivid layout and unspooling of the Eraser’s backstory. Put down the gun bae/fam, that wasn’t a real live spoiler! While a story of this scale wouldn’t be without its moments of inconsistency, these episodes are few and far between, so go pick up the entire series today.