This time, within the ever-revolving twists and turns that mark Dark Horse’s strongest and most singular book, the opposing teams of ex-Mind Management operatives (one led by the enigmatic Eraser, the other by the increasingly take-charge Meru) close in on a Berlin-based former agent, who now uses her abilities to hide within the populace as an illusionist of some renown. As the two groups vie for her affiliation and we learn more abut her in yet another great, fairly in-depth character package, it’s also revealed that the “Meru All-Stars” are a bit worse for wear, thanks to in-fighting, bouts of a depressive step-behindedness and the costly limitations of Meru’s control over her own powers. Meanwhile, the Eraser’s crew is, to put it bluntly, on-fucking-point, and poised to pounce on complete control of the Mind Management legacy.
This is an issue that feels constantly in-transit, be it in the movements of the team (astrally or through conventional means) or the catch-as-catch-can nature of the magician’s pursuit. Because of that - and thanks to the sheer amount of stories being told - issue 19 does sometimes feel harried, with the book’s usual fluidity noticeably compromised. On several pages, for example, four different plots are told simultaneously, making the entire thing feel a bit clunky, jumpy and cramped, not to mention even more frenzied than usual.
Of course, you have to be prepared for a decent amount of that going into this title - it’s a given - but here it felt like Kindt was trying to pack in too much, muddying the already mirky waters of Mind MGMT. Then again, this book is this book, and under the patronage of Matt Kindt, that which is discombobulating is most often on purpose.
As per usual, though for different reasons this time, you might want to read this book twice, just to catch absolutely everything going on in it. And then maybe go back once more for good measure. What I’m saying is, be prepared for a significant time commitment, though one that is perhaps slightly less rewarding than the other character-driven stories in issues past. Although, I did really enjoy the expansion of the relationship between Duncan and Lyme as they reminisced together about old Management missions they jointly undertook. That was nice to see.
The best part of this issue - as is true of many Kindt stories - is not necessarily what is going on in the plot itself, but rather the strange and curious things that bruise and rattle the book’s margins, and in a comic like Mind MGMT, these types of details are crucial.
In this case (and hopefully I’ll be able to explain this without too much confusion), it looks as though everything that happens with the magician is actually cut-and-pasted (in the old-school, scrapbook sense of the term) on top of the existing panels in which Meru and the gang pursue her. This all starts with a subtle, almost doorway-like tear during the illusionist’s intro and continues enticingly throughout the rest of the book.
What this seems to fill in for this issue is the supplemental text that is usually scrawled vertically along the gutters of the book, which is here conspicuously absent. Also accompanying this change are a few strange tri-colored backgrounds near the latter half of the book.
I have to admit, I still have no idea what that was about, but if nothing else, this approach (alternatively corresponding or contrasting with the color in the panels) is an accomplishment of showcasing divergent tones within the art, while still linking them together (intentionally un-seamlessly) within the narrative. As always, this is yet another uniquely noteworthy feat for Kindt’s art, which remains a keen satire of the innocent.
After I finished the confusing Mind MGMT case file which bookends the issue along with the impressively tidy recap page at its front, I felt absolutely beat. This is not an uncommon side effect of Mind MGMT (consult your local physician if symptoms persist), but this issue in particular felt dense.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Matt Kindt Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/26/14