Just look at that cover, will you? I mean, sure, Matt Kindt’s twisted mixing of grotesque domesticity within a cover evoking an old issue of House & Garden that’s been lovingly dipped in LSD and formaldehyde is the visually arresting stuff regular readers like myself have come to know and love about this book, but that’s not the only thing that makes this one in particular stand out. This cover also comes laced with wet-hot Comic Bastardry, thanks to a quote by our very own Dustin Cabeal (his second on the title so far)! I guess that makes me a little bit biased, but if nothing else, this fantastic artistic direction and “Hey I know that guy” cameo excitement are the perfect heralds for an issue that simultaneously knocks it out of the park and truly brings it home.
Mind MGMT #15 follows Henry Lyme as he travels in between the pages of the story thus far, specifically charting his heretofore unseen and multiple, forced-forgotten interactions with Meru leading up to Mind MGMT #1. In any other story, this might feel like gap-filler, but instead, you get the distinct impression that Kindt is doing some planned excavation work within his story here, bolstering its foundations for further building. Much like the protagonist busying away on the front cover, Kindt here proves to be a surgical tinkerer, slipping in subtle incisions to further reveal how efficiently intricate his narrative engine truly is, while at the same time fortifying its strength.
As much as I enjoyed Meru’s turn in the spotlight last time, Lyme is the true embodiment of what makes the Mind Management program so simultaneously terrifying and Great. I wouldn’t say much more is revealed here in terms of character motivation or outlook, but his actions are perhaps a bit more defined and he is overall given a greater depth of field, if not a full pardon for his high crimes against minds.
While you can forgive him for wanting to look after Meru from the sidelines, and applaud his decision to motivate her education rather than direct it so expressly, you also have to judge the fucker for tormenting her so ... insatiably. Even though Lyme allows a relatively small measure of penance to befall himself near the end of the issue (at the hands of two characters I was very happy to see return), I find myself constantly questioning whether I like Lyme ... or fucking loathe him, making him one of the most uniquely intriguing character studies in comic books today.
At his heart, and based on his past actions, Lyme is a lovelorn, self-serving coward whose sins - including the indirect murder of his family - are too innumerable for forgiveness, a state he knows is beyond him, but one which he incessantly (and perhaps undeservedly) clamors for regardless. And yet, he also happens to be (for now) the most powerful player in the book, and the only hope against forces who basically define the monster he once became.
In the end (though it’s impossible to say for sure, given the countless wrinkles Kindt has already carved within the headspace of this story), I think Mind MGMT will be about restitution rather than retribution, and the creator does a great job of further setting up that dynamic with yet another unique and multi-faceted look into quite possibly his most interesting character. He does this by somehow managing to tell a story about repetition without getting unduly repetitive: yet another example of the welcome head games Dustin accuses Kindt of on the cover.
In terms of art, I’m not sure how much more we can say about it, other than it is just as subversive as the story. If you’re like me, then you’ll be mostly unimpressed by it at the outset, until you become saturated by the wispy swathes of action that watermark each page, staining each of them in this hurried, frenetic style that makes it at once endearing and, almost impossibly in a world of imitators, singularly distinct; yet further evidence of how adept Kindt can be in changing your mind ... pun intended.
As always, the bookends and peripherals of this issue afford a tight yet teasing glimpse into the greater world of Mind MGMT, and close about the story proper like itchy trigger fingers around a power-drill. It’s still a bit unclear how the stories of an early textual Mind Management assassin, a young Russian counter-agent and the Matryoshkas Field Guide notes (which this time come particularly well-matched with, and juxtaposed against, the action on the page) will come together and combust, but one thing is for sure: I’ll be here when they do.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Matt Kindt Publisher: Dark Horse Price: $3.99 Release Date: 9/25/13