Mind MGMT #8
Mind MGMT is now known for its multi-layered and multi-textual approach, for telling its many different stories in many different ways with last month’s issue introducing a whole number of new ones. Strangely then, given its medium, this is the first time – to my mind – that the series has used a comic to tell a tale; the issue opens with a crudely drawn three page strip reminiscent of those that adorn the front and back covers of each issue – the Second Floor strips – written and drawn by the Perrier sisters ( presumably with the help of Mr.Matt Kindt). On the surface it is a seemingly simple step to use comic storytelling techniques to tell a story in a comic, but the meta-way in which Matt wields them lends the scene a dizzying and sinister vibe.
In the comic inside the comic the sisters write a comic, sketching out thumbnails of the panel prior to the one of them drawing it. With the reveal and removal of Henry Lyme as omniscient narrator and the replacement of the margin-line field notes Mind MGMT should have gotten a lot simpler, but instead the mysteries of its origin have only gotten more messier and the few answers given even more ambiguous. When Lyme quips that he doesn’t much like the art in this mini-comic it is comforting because that is a reference only a few layers deep, we can decrypt that to be a message from Matt Kindt to his critics, but every other line read and reference, like for example the other meta beat of issue # 8’s amazing cover containing that of issue #7, is far more complex. The deeper you try and look into the void of Mind MGMT the further you fall in.
Strangely then the series doesn’t get bogged down in its depth and density, like I am want to in these reviews; the story being told in the straight pages is a slick and speedy one, none of the issues as potently paced as this one. Within the space of a few pages we see the setting shift from city to city and country to country, each area explored in an explosive, action-packed way. It’s easy to see this as a very cerebral series but this is doing a vast disservice to all of its many very cool surface sequences; the unique intensity of the raucous rioting masses of mindless and the single-minded stoicism of the immortals are amazing enough on their own to warrant a purchase, if you are wanting more of a simple minded read.
Now more than ever though that would be the worst way to approach this comic since this second arc is quickly and quite effectively entwining all of the individual elements that were established in those early supplements. Now that we know who the main Mind MGMT. agents are and how their powers work they can show up at a scene in the main story and strike without the exposition all baggage of an introduction as the sniper does here and now that the series has a past that we have witnessed first as a present – rather than as a flashback – the recurrence and consequence of the characters actions are far more meaningful than they have been in the past.
So it is because the book is so dense that it can be swift when it needs to without sacrificing any depth, it has taught us its language and so now with a simple symbol or gesture it can convey whole swathes of story. That is one explanation of this issues pace, the other has to do with what is suggested but the supplemental stories in the issue; that The Eraser, the arc’s antagonist, can enter and alter people’s minds and memories without leaving anything of a trace. So when Meru moves in and put of a car with each line of dialogue or travels from Zanzibar to Egypt without a single shot of travel or expository cut-out, like you do in a dream, one has to wonder whether things are exactly as they seem.
Surprisingly enough it seems to me as if Mind MGMT is becoming a better book as it goes along, as impossible as that seems given how I feel about its beginning. The rhyzomatic approach to structure that Kindt took early on was risky, we are used to supplemental branches stemming of a strong foundation but the lack of clear focus and priority in his pages felt precarious at times but is paying off drastic dividends already, even here in what could still be called the early days of the story. Maybe it will reach a critical mass somewhere along the line, become too complex and contradictory, maybe Matt will blow it before the finale but thus far his work is as perfect as that of a Perrier and the positives thus far more than enough to warrant keeping the Eraser away if he does.