Mind MGMT isn’t just a story. It’s an experience.
This is a bold statement to make. Yet it’s one that is easy enough for this series to earn. I had read the first four volumes of the book some time ago, but decided to finish out the series this past weekend. Once the final pages were closed, the book had solidified itself in my mind as one of the single most intriguing series I had read, and a stellar example of the storytelling advantages of the comic book medium.
Created by writer-artist Matt Kindt, Mind MGMT follows the story of Meru, a writer searching for answers to the mystery surrounding Flight 815 – a flight where everyone on board lost their memories, and one passenger, Henry Lyme, is still missing. As her journey to find Lyme takes her from the streets of Los Angeles to the forested fields of China, Meru grows closer and closer to finding out what really happened that day…and the terrible secrets behind the mysterious organization known as Mind MGMT, a group that holds more meaning to Meru than she realizes.
While this sounds like a compelling story in it of itself, this is only the narrative of the first volume. The series soon submerges itself into a cross between spy adventures, classic Hollywood movies, and science fiction novels. While this may seem a bit too much for another series to handle, Kindt manages to keep the narrative tightly focused on Meru’s journey of self-discovery. She is pulled from one corner of the globe to another in battle with the deadly forces of The Eraser, yet the most compelling story within the series is her search for who she is in the world.
That’s not to say that Kindt sacrifices the other characters in this tale. Each one is just as layered and flawed as Meru is. MGMT case files that serves as brief dossiers on characters pepper the final pages of select issues, serving as introductions to characters who will be introduced to the narrative further down the line. From the Futurist Duncan who can “see” fifteen minutes into the future and kill with his finger; to Bill Falls, the “Hulk” who can see any flaw in a structure and exploit it; to the deadly Immortals who can’t be killed and serve The Eraser, Kindt brings a world of intrigue and excitement that can rival any John Le Carre novel.
Yet all of this simply focuses on the main narrative. Within each issue, Kindt peppers in tiny details about “The Management” which readers can use to help decipher the mysteries the book carries within it. Early issues feature instructions from the “Mind MGMT Field Guide,” relaying spycraft tips for fellow agents to follow in the field. Later issues play off of this idea, featuring snippets on assassination letters and field guides from rogue agencies. While some readers may gloss over these to simply follow Meru’s story, they would be missing out on key details that are crucial to later issues. The second story arc alone features snippets from Meru’s book “Premeditated” on the side, explaining details about The Eraser’s traumatic childhood. If you want the full Mind MGMT experience, take some time and read these carefully.
With most comics, I’m wary of creators trying to do too much. Most people are only truly adept at one skill, so seeing writers try to be artists or artists try to be writers can sometimes lead to mediocre art on one half of the equation. Yet Kindt manages to bring breathtakingly beautiful art to accompany the twisting tale. His settings carry with them strikingly orange sunsets and icy blue-white snow to build the world around the characters. Using striking watercolors to illustrate the scenes playing out in front of the readers’ eyes gives the book an unnervingly bright color palette to match the shadow-filled tale. The weak point for some will be Kindt’s rendering of the characters, as facial structures and body language can sometimes become wonky. Through all of this, Kindt shows that his art is more than up to the task of helping render this dense and compelling story.
Mind MGMT flew under the radar while it was being released in single issues, never truly becoming a massive hit. Yet now sits on the shelves of comic book stores waiting for readers to sink into the world created within its pages. Both epic in scope and intimate in nature, with mind-boggling ideas being bandied about and tossed away page after page and characters that will draw you further into the mystery, Mind MGMT is worth picking up and binging over a long weekend. Just be sure you find a comfy chair to read in. You may be there a while.
Mind MGMT is available now in comic book stores and bookstores everywhere and is collected into six hardcover collections – The Manager, The Futurist, The Home Maker, The Magician, The Eraser, and The Immortals.