Perhaps more than any other issue, Mind MGMT #21 shows why this series is so appropriately named, and simultaneously so goddamn great. Unlike any that has preceded it, this book is filled not with a shared dialogue between characters, but rather the personal thoughts of each as he or she fights for his or her life against opposing Mind Management agents. Whether it’s “good” guys, “bad” guys or anyone in between, Kindt makes his characters’ thoughts (and only their thoughts) readily available to the reader in the form of a blur of excitement, fear and foreboding, making the entire experience feel disconnected and incoherent in the cleverest of ways.
In such that not only is this issue one big, no-frills brawl of knives, guns and fists, but also that each participant is, for various reasons, bereft of his or her natural talents, this is arguably the biggest formulaic unravelling of Mind MGMT’s own mind management.
Admittedly, it does feel choppy and discombobulating - more so, even, than usual - but it also feels somehow pure or oddly un-muddled by the tricks usually employed by the cast of this book. Quite simply, at its core, this is a recorded telling about the potentially last thoughts that go through the heads of vulnerable people as they fight for their lives. Yes, there is magic, conjoined assassins and immortal men, but to me, even these pale in the flurry of moments that Kindt illustrates.
As Brendan Wright, um, writes in the interestingly-placed introductory letters section (the header of which is brilliant in its clandestine plea), “Only Matt [Kindt] would write a ‘silent’ issue with more text than a normal one!” Too true, and as with everything this writer/artist does, that approach is done with purpose; the only thing more verbose and confusing than Man’s dialogue with the world is of course that which he shares with himself, and I think Kindt captures that very well here.
The type that snakes up the left-side gutter this time comes in the form of an excerpt from one of Perrier’s “automatic type sessions,” and in a way similar to what Joyce does in Episode Seven, “Aeolus,” of his novel Ulysses, it’s an exercise in both obfuscation and enlightenment.
Kindt uses Perrier’s words here not just to quasi-pre-cognitively narrate the action and possible resultant aftermath of each scene, but also to imply that, as I suggested last time, Mind MGMT is self-aware; a story about manipulation currently in the process of being manipulated by a grand and as-yet unseen manipulator.
Kindt’s art is one that I am very happy to say I have developed the requisite acquired taste for since picking up this series, and it continues to be absolutely perfect for this story: the visual representation of a dim memory, shifting in and out of its own solidity. However, never before have I seen it this turbulent, which stands to reason since, again, it really is one big, multi-pronged street fight.
His painterly style is a great contributor to why this issue works so well, sometimes splattering, at others shattering his panels, but everywhere both exceeding and undermining the structural integrity of his pages.
No other comic book is this purposeful, gorgeous or grotesque in its visual narrative, and if it’s anything that its 21st issue proves, it’s this: there is simply nothing quite like Mind MGMT. And there probably never will be.
Writer/Artist: Matt Kindt Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Date: 4/23/14 Format: Ongoing, Print/Digital