I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little nervous to review Mind MGMT #12. Given that Dustin has steadfastly captained this love boat through 11 regular issues, a zero issue, a few negative issues and one very cool cover shout-out to himself and Comic Bastards, it’s safe to say that I’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill. I do have a message for regular readers of Dustin’s reviews, however: don’t panic. If Issue #12 is any indication, I’ll be towing the company line with this book, because Mind MGMT constitutes some of the best storytelling within this or, quite frankly, any other medium. After an interesting peek behind the origins of the field notes that tattoo the gutters and headers of almost each page in Mind MGMT, this issue officially begins inside the headquarters of the book’s eponymous illuminati-style organization: a place called Shangri-La. In pouring over the endless clandestine tomes housed within the secret headquarters’ stacks, Meru discovers a bit more about the world - and more importantly, herself - than she expected. Meanwhile, the remaining forces of Mind MGMT’s remnants close in on her friends, the rogue former agents that brought her to Shangri-La to learn the truth. Then again, “friends” may be a rather strong word, particularly when applied to the man they call Lyme ... who she would call traitor.
By the end of this book, not only has the slick soothsayer Duncan proven once again that his pimp hand is way strong, but the scales between factions have been tipped back to an even keel, thanks to the emergence of the long-awaited figure who will act as counterbalance to the powers-that-be within Mind MGMT. After quite possibly the most satisfying punch thrown in the entire series, issue 12 finishes with a sweetness reminiscent of the end of The Graduate: long-awaited and well earned ... but ultimately, it seems, terminal.
Even from the outset, Kindt shows a well-honed understanding here of medium ... before then unabashedly fucking with it. In Mind MGMT, he’s perfected what I would call kaleidoscopic storytelling. Through the combined current of his electric art and the measured cadence of his fiercely applied writing, Kindt’s style allows the reader to maintain a centralized focus of plot, while the rest of his story spins in a whir of controlled chaos around it; hence, a kaleidoscope.
One page in issue 12 illustrates this approach beautifully: as Meru absorbs seemingly a millennium of information by rummaging through the bounty of Shangri-la’s comprehensive stacks, we are discombobulated by a heady swirl of imagery across the page as she becomes enlightened to the secrets of the world. At the center of it all, however, is Meru: the slowly-opening eye of the storm. If that’s not the perfect image to define this series, I don’t know what is.
I mentioned before in my review of the first hardcover collection of Mind MGMT that Kindt’s art does take some getting used to, but once you do, it’s apparent that there could be no other style for this series. It is what it needs to be, which is to say, understated, yet vibrating with a kinetic pace that forces the eye to focus on the details Kindt wants you to see. The skin of this book crawls in a maelstrom of shivers, even when it’s just standing still, and in each almost colored pencil-looking, sketchy page, there is something bubbling beneath the surface. In that way, the art in Mind MGMT is all about - you guessed it - mind management. Just like its name implies, this book plays more head games with the reader, than are readily evident
The same is true for the writing, which the art works so well with in tandem. In fact, I’m not sure if there is another author out there who chooses his words so meticulously and pairs them together so well as Kindt. Mind MGMT is pregnant with double-speak; it feels like you have to lance and squeeze each word balloon to divine its inherent meaning. And while that’s going on, you’ve got Kindt actively trying to throw off the reader by subjecting him or her to an inundation of text, at the same time proving that a deft creator can make you focus on one thing while feeding your osmosis with something else. Everything about this book may be an intricate display in slight of hand, but it still feels like magic.
At times complex, at others painstakingly sweet and still others foreboding, Mind MGMT #12 continues to be one of, if not THE best book on the stands today.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Matt Kindt
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release Date: 6/26/13