Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mind MGMT Vol. 3: The Home Maker

While I loved the last two volumes of Matt Kindt's extraordinary Mind MGMT, I felt a bit let down by the third volume, merely liking it instead of adoring it.  Kindt's art is marvelous, as usual, but since the story deviates from Meru's narrative and starts jumping around to various sleeper agents, I found it more difficult to hold on to all of the threads in the story.  This is, of course, made particularly difficult when the whole conceit of the series is that your mind cannot be trusted and neither can the story.



We open with a typical suburban scene: a couple getting ready for a party at the neighbors' house.  They're not buddy-buddy friends, but it's about keeping up appearances.  And up with the Joneses.  Only, strange things are happening in the neighborhood.  A watch goes missing.  Then a guy's Maltese Falcon movie prop.  Then ... somebody's wife.

During the Cold War, the Soviets created a counterpart to Mind Management; theirs was called Matryoshka.  They developed soliders who could will themselves to death and trained unknown numbers of sleeper agents to be placed in enemy territory.  Sometimes, Mind Management would snag these sleepers and try to turn them, and hence lies the crux of our problem.  Many agents have been forgotten and abandoned after the dissolution of both mental warfare facilities.  Lost, searching for something unknowable, their minds begin to crack.

Meanwhile, Meru is still ... doing Meru-like stuff and tracking down ... clues.  Honestly, her storyline was the weakest part of this, although it picked up again at the end.  I'm curious to see how much of this was a double-cross, or a double-double cross, or whatever things end up being when your memories get wiped again ... and again ... and again.

I do want to speak up on behalf of Kindt's watercolor and ink artwork.  I think it's a brilliant choice for this story.  The haziness of the watercolors sometimes renders characters as a bit blurry, so the reader looks again and says to herself, "Wait ... who is that?"  It's a kind of memory wipe at the most basic level: making readers look again and question what they just saw.  The stylized 50's housewife magazine-style covers for each issue are wonderfully dark in humor (and check out the drink recipes in the beginning of the book!)

Those little touches -- the dispatches from Matryoshka, the little scene played out in the first issue at the bottom of the pages -- elevate Mind MGMT above just another spy comic.  Kindt is playing with readers' minds on multiple levels.  This is one case where I enjoy being manipulated.

Onward to volume four!  Unless there is no volume four and that is not a gun being pointed at me with a man's fingers in the shape of a -- BANG!

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