Mind MGMT #4

by deerinthexenonarclights


The clue on the cover of this month’s Mind MGMT is the most obvious to date: the dolphin is just a dolphin, the water just water and the words ‘Help Me’ are writ large, legible from any distance. This should be a letdown, I should be disappointed that i cannot deconstruct it like I have others, but I’m not and this is because the why is just as interesting to me as the what. More specifically, why make this message to much plainer than the previous few? The answer to that is both one that itself asks a multitude of questions – as all MGMT‘s answers tend to – and one that explains exactly why this issue is the most exciting and experimental in a series known for evoking those two terms in superlative fashion. Not quite following me? Read on and things will get clearer.

Last month’s cliffhanger promised answers to come and Kindt doesn’t dilly dally in delivering them, only spending a single page to bookend each side of an expository flashback (or Hypno-Memory Retrieval to us agents). Seeing how this world works, seeing how Lyme was trained, seeing the origin story of the Agency gives us a lot of important answers, but it also allows Matt to make use of some of his more out there ideas; this all makes for a brilliantly brainy and surprisingly emotional read. Though the title suggests that we have been getting it all along, issue four truly tells the story of Mind MGMT. The thing is though that it doesn’t actually tell it truly; it’s all just a story.

See, the same Field Guide side facts that told me the title of Lyme’s technique tell us that quite explicitly, they tell us that what Lyme tells us is actually a cover story. Of course all the best lies contain the maximum amount of truth; so, its not like we learn nothing, we simply cannot trust what we have been told.  At first i was surprised that the Field Guide would state facts so literally, as they also do elsewhere, but then I started to wonder: were the meanings more blatant now, or am I simply better at understanding them? When the book tells the story of Lyme’s training, is it training me in turn? On a visual level the comic is as amazing as it has consistently been, but there was one new touch to Kindt’s layouts that caught my eye:  The garden, whenever it is depicted, grows out of frame because like last months splash it is imagined. Though so presumably are most of the other panels; well, so is the whole book, isn’t it?

I was wondering about the subtlety of these hidden facts for the first half of the issue, maybe even worrying, but the second half gave me an answer to that question: the writer simply didn’t think we were getting the message clear enough and so he sought to clarify it, so much so that by the final few pages he is literally shouting it at us; and this, what should have been a cold technical twist gave me chills. Now when I say ‘writer’ know that I’m not actually referring to Kindt – though I also can’t count him out of contention for the role – instead I’m talking about whoever it is that types up the field reports that this book consists of. Someone is putting this thing together – they’ve done the research, put all the names and dates in place – and they are doing it to help and because they need help.

The first issue asked and subtly answered the question of who was narrating the book, and we’re now getting close to an answer as to who is writing it, but a much more important one was raised before both of those and remains unanswered still: who is reading it? Are we? Our protagonist, is she? Are these written warnings for us or her? (similarly, the Hypno-memory retrieval, is this a memory of his or hers?) Like all the best ARG’s Mind MGMT brilliantly blurs the line between the reader’s reality and its own; it brings us into the story as active participants, characters in the comic and as man is a myopic beast that can only work to make the experience all the more compelling.

All this complexity comes at a cost though, the urgency of the Immortal’s arrival was crippled by both this break in the pace and the bigger ideas it suggests. This though is the only book out there that does, nay that can offer those cerebral thrills and crackpot concepts while almost any good writer can script a tense cat and mouse between two parties, so its a sacrifice I’m happy to make. Only Matt Kindt can write a book of codes and riddles and make it this compelling, so that is what he should be doing. He, like Lyme, is a one of a kind talent and a vital asset to the industry. I just hope that we can exploit his mind for many more years before he decides to retreat to the jungle – real or imagined – and that no other more ominous end befalls him before this book is complete.