Monday, September 30, 2013

Mind MGMT, Volume 1: The Manager

An airplane takes off and when it lands all 120 passengers on board (save one 7-year-old boy) have complete amnesia (good things the pilots remembered how to land the plane). These people cannot remember a single detail about their lives, not marriages, relatives, childhoods. Nothing. Add to the mystery that one of the passengers, one Henry Lyme, cannot be found.

Enter Meru, a frustrated author who cannot come up with a follow-up to her debut true crime novel. She decides she is going to get to the bottom of this "amnesia flight" as her new writing project. In her quest for truth, she finds herself penniless, followed by the CIA, hunted by strange and powerful figures, and confronted with the existence of an agency of spies who have psychic abilities. These agents have such control of world situations that human beings almost seem like pets or even insects to them, which lends a frightening aspect to the proceedings.

Apart from the plot, which has its own amazing array of twists and turns, there is also a guidebook entry embedded in each page. These instructions lend a different angle to plot developments, and over time they become more and more relevant. This attention to detail is simply astounding and helps make this book one weird, wild trip.

This book's creator, Matt Kindt, is prolific of late, producing graphic novels like Red Handed and Super Spy while also writing a good number of titles at DC Comics, including Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Justice League of America, and Suicide Squad. He has been nominated for multiple Eisner and Harvey Awards, and is generally a well regarded creator. His writing is full of real world facts and details that lend a realism to the suspenseful situations he creates. His art is sketchy and atmospheric, typically enhanced with watercolors, as you can see in this sample page from the "Mind MGMT Case Files" that end each chapter:

The sketchy aspect of the art contributes to the plot in excellent manner, setting up misdirections and confusion that only sharpen the mysteries and plot twists further. I found this collection of issues #0-6 of the monthly comic book series to be eerie, gripping, and well plotted. There are so many details in this book, and they all contribute to a grand scheme that is not apparent at first. I cannot wait to see where these characters are going and what other secrets will be revealed in future volumes.

Reviews I have read about this book have been very positive. Seth T. Hahne was "incredibly impressed" with Kindt's "seamless, off-handed, perfect world-building." Sean Edgar described how it "reads like a comic that has had an inordinate amount of thought put into it." Leslie at Working for the Mandroid wrote, "This is the most bizarre comic I have ever read, and I could not put it down."I particularly agree with these sentiments, and I felt this book was utterly compelling and engrossing.

This volume of Mind MGMT, like the ongoing comic book series, is published by Dark Horse. There is a preview and more available here.

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