Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Matt Kindt "Mind MGMT Volume 1" (Dark Horse Comics, 2013)

In another medium, Mind MGMT would be referred to as a High Concept story.  What if the US government had a secret program with weaponized mind control specialists?  

In its particulars, Mind MGMT is the story of Meru, a true crime writer who investigates a curious incident involving a commercial flight whose passengers all show signs of amnesia.  Her investigation throws her into a spy story with psychics, immortal assassins, and former government operatives.

Given the widespread praise that this series has received in the single issue format, I was underwhelmed by this collection of the first six issues.  The plotting is remarkably simple for such a convoluted tale: Maru travels to exotic location; escapes confrontation with assassins, then receives lengthy exposition.  There are a few problems with this.  First, Kindt gives too much telling without enough showing.  We receive detailed backstory and answers to questions that have never been asked.  Second, there’s no time to develop tension or for the reader to ask questions that are later answered.  We’re given the answers without the questions ever being raised.   This means that there is no payoff in the answers, since we aren’t invested.  Also, we have no real investment in any of the characters in the story.  Our protagonist, Meru, seems to be sympathetic primarily because she is the protagonist.  Otherwise Meru is as much of a mystery as anything else in this story.

Quick mention must be made of the art choices in Mind MGMT.  Kindt uses a rough watercolor style that is more common in more personal comics.  It is a bit surprising to see it used with this type of storytelling, & some readers may find it a bit jarring.

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