In Mind MGMT #17, series creator Matt Kindt is doing a lot of lacing. I mean that in a couple of different ways; firstly, in the narcotic way in which he has, since the very beginning of this series, slipped his readers a heady narrative cocktail of weaponized mind-fuckery, and more structurally, by threading in all the loose ends and subplots he’s used to fray its peripheral universe, since issue 13, into a multi-layered web of delicious deceit. Or, to put it another way (and at the risk of mixing my metaphors even further), as the official bookend to Mind MGMT’s third chapter, this issue tightens its fingers around the overall arc to once again throttle a story that has left its readers - myself included - gasping and spluttering desperately for more.
As I mentioned above, this issue picks up where Mind MGMT #13 left off, as most of the subsequent issues since have been exploring the in-betweens that led us here in the first place. In so doing, Kindt ingeniously displaces his conceits by jumbling the time of their telling, making this arc’s “conclusion” that much more impacting when it finally comes together.
We get a recap of the life of Megan, the double (or is that triple) sleeper agent who was left to rot in the obscurity of “faux-mesticity” by both Mind Management and its organizational nemesis, Matryoshkas. Found and “saved” by The Eraser and her gaggle of grey matter-manipulating goons (who are really no worse than Lyme and his group), Megan, whose story we have seen develop throughout Mind MGMT’s liner notes, here seems to be The Eraser crew’s answer to series protagonist, Meru, albeit devoid of the latter’s empathy, restraint or inherent morality. Megan’s vengeance is both scary and, under Kindt’s viscous visual direction, oddly quite beautiful.
Speaking of Meru, we get an even deeper taste of her power here when she finally flips into “beast mode” (in a much more controlled rage than Megan), and as she herself damn-near happily exclaims, it’s pretty frightening to her would-be predators ... not to mention her allies. I hate to draw character comparisons as such, but her “Neo” is finally starting to believe that she is “the one,” and as such, begins acting like the balancing sword of justice she was presumably always meant to be.
By the end of it, Meru is no longer some easily-manipulated, shy little thing; as she sits, confidently overlooking her handiwork while her erstwhile associates in turn watch her nervously, it’s clear that the dynamic of this group, and indeed the title itself, has changed irrevocably by the end of its third act.
Of course, this is Mind MGMT, and as such, isn’t anything so simple as a straightforward story. This whole book is based on the subliminal, as manifested every issue by its insidious scrawl along the presumed subsidiaries of its pages. While it took a perhaps more muted tone than the textual insurrection from issue 16, I love how the Matryoshkas and Mind Management messages creeping up the book’s spine like dueling varicose veins run into each other this time, implying not only that their subversive subtexts are equal, yet opposite, but that their inevitable strangle may be much closer than we think leading into its fourth chapter.
Coupled with the beginning lines of something called Mind Management: A Novel, which - at least on the surface - confirm Meru’s transformation, these texts simultaneously provide stability and imbalance, a sort of false confidence-inspiring vertigo that makes you question the validity of the whole. I’d be interested to see how most folks read this section of each book and whether it matches up to my own. Then again, that’s what makes the approach to this story feel so singularly individual.
The art this issue continues to infect in that feverishly schizophrenic way Kindt has created that so beautifully stirs everything up in the story. That cover, for example, is the visual version of the double-speak that has been going on throughout the entirety of Mind MGMT. The casual observer is not quite sure what to expect, whether the woman pictured (Megan) has just kissed the man (Lyme) on the cheek ... or instead broken his neck. Especially when measured against the sickly-sweet cover blurbs and visual elements, like hearts and pastel colors, it accentuates this title’s insidious seditiousness.
I also really enjoyed the scenes where Megan sets about dismantling the town that has acted as her prison for years, armed both with the twisted powers of her now-unleashed mind and, of course, a full clip of bullets. To see this idyllic bit of Americana actively decanted into a hellish nightmare of Kindt’s almost childlike visual madness is disconcerting to say the least. It’s a visual storytelling style that sticks to your ribs, a world at once surreal and sublime, innocent and sick in its collapse.
If you’ve skipped this arc and its two predecessors for whatever terrible reason, then you are missing out on what I truly believe to be the future of comic book storytelling. In short: My god. What a fucking book...
Writer/Artist/Creator: Matt Kindt Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/27/13