As with every issue that has come before it, Mind MGMT #14 somehow manages to build itself as a hypnotically morbid curiosity with imperceptibly smooth, sleight of hand storytelling, and it does so without even breaking a sweat, and by treading trodden tracks that continue to reveal new paths. Issue 14 is all about Meru: her past, her recent re-awakening, her no longer dormant “powers” and her inextinguishable drive to learn more. We’re along for the ride as she attempts to allay a newly gnostic gnaw at the back of her mind by retracing her childhood and tracking Mind Management’s footfall through it, and what a journey it is.
In a way, much of this issue flirts in a perhaps more surreal spin on a Joe Sacco graphic novel, offering slice-of-life storytelling surrounding the intricacies and tragedies of Place, but vetted through a particularly keen perspective in a very different, much more enlightened main character, the evolution of whom stands as the crux of perhaps the comic world’s most singularly impressive stories.
I know Meru and her life have taken the lead role for the better part of Mind MGMT, as she has been established as our Dante to its Divine Comedy, but this is not a rehash, nor is it a poor lesson in redundant storytelling. Kindt has once again proven that he is adept at revealing new depths and folds within the makeup of his characters, as well as his story itself. He achieves this exploration into a life robbed of people and memories without anything so crass as nostalgia; and yet, its response remains just as bitingly evocative.
Throughout it all, though, Kindt simmers his story in the kindling of a twice-thought snuffed-out relationship, at first tenderly fanning the flames and then searing the skin with a (literally) fiery altercation. As personal as this story feels, Kindt is undoubtedly girding his world for war, but in Meru’s continued growth in becoming what she was always meant to be, it feels like he has plotted out a new and intriguing front, not to mention an equally interesting backstory, with a quiet yet telling look into the apparent past of The Eraser.
Visually, Kindt has established this great ethereal tone in Mind MGMT, and he continues to utilize it to its fullest in issue 14. Its hurried, furtive pace dizzies in the same way an impressionist painting might; like a picture of a tenuous memory you can’t quite grasp, like a name on the tip of your tongue. New readers will go through the requisite acquired taste process, but it doesn’t take long to figure out that this book could exist no other way visually, particularly as Kindt uses it in soft but distinct ways.
In its more looming, introspective moments, the panels themselves unravel, spilling much of the art out on the page in a fantastically dreamy bleed. In one panel, you actually see this process happen, as one “sleeper” agent manifests her ability in order to deliver a secret message, and the borders around her world melt away. It’s so subtle, beautifully well-conceived and crafted, you’d be forgiven for missing it, but it’s also a nice touch that adds to the mystique of this book.
As always, the stories at the periphery of Mind MGMT #14 act as fascinating and telling asides, exploring the unswept cobwebs of its universe. This time focusing on the home-wrecking Matryoshkas agent-in-training, Domino, and the green thumb-minded Mind Management artist known as Jardin, these may not seem directly pertinent to the main plot, but they are integral to the world by nudging it quietly further into a more robust narrative whole. Kindt has proven to be a master tease, showing no exception thus far as to how good he is at drawing the reader ever more deeply into this story.
If you haven’t checked out this series yet, stop being close-minded and pick it up. In fact, there’s no better time to jump aboard this technicolored head-trip, as the collected second volume will be available for a paltry $19.99 on October 9th.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Matt Kindt
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 8/28/13