Friday, April 12, 2013

Super Spies, Secret Histories: Matt Kindt's MIND MGMT Volume 1

MIND MGMT Volume 1: The Manager
By Matt Kindt
Dark Horse Books, 2013
Matt Kindt is a cartoonist with a unique visual style, often coloring his distinct drawings with watercolors or other mixed media that bleeds past the borders of the narrative art into the edges of the art boards. He'll reproduce the whole board with meta-messages plastered in the margins, the grain of the paper coming through and giving texture to the rough imagery.

As a storyteller, in his creator-owned works Kindt excels with stories dealing with espionage, deeply invested on the effect spying has on societies and the individuals who wage the never-ending shadow wars that steer the course of history. The technologies used in spying and the winding pathways of interpersonal and intergovernmental treachery share equal focus with stories of human beings giving everything of themselves for an ideal or profit, often caught up in waves of human events beyond their control, sometimes controlling those waves themselves. In a similar way to Garth Ennis's masterful cornering of the war genre - not just his entertaining and historically accurate war stories but the deep psychology of those who wage war - Kindt masterfully utilizes espionage and everything it entails to explore unique facets of human interaction and global history. Kindt's breakthrough work was Super Spy (as well as its spin-off 2 Sisters), richly detailed and beguiling graphic novels exploring spies and spying from various conflicts throughout human history. His follow up graphic novels all played with similar themes but in increasingly unique and exhilarating ways: Revolver, his mind-bending story of a man caught between alternate realities, and even 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man, his modern fantasy of a man whose body grows to extreme heights in his short and tortured life, are at their hearts spy tales. MIND MGMT, his new ongoing series from Dark Horse, is a natural extension of the work he has dedicated so much of his career to, a perfect distillation of the ideas and themes he excels at exploring, a vastly entertaining mystery set against the backdrop of sci-fi superpowered spycraft and secret histories.

MIND MGMT Volume 1: The Manager (released this week) is the first graphic novel in the series collecting the first seven chapters, packaged in a gorgeous hardcover with fantastic and innovative trade design. The story opens with journalist Meru working on a book about the notorious Flight 815, a plane where everyone aboard were afflicted with amnesia. Meru is at the end of her rope, for reasons to be revealed constantly finding herself blowing deadlines, behind on bills, becoming increasingly obsessed with the flight and what happened to it. Her investigations take her around the world, getting wrapped up in a deeper mystery, the recurring theme of some secret organization told in whispers, a group called Mind Management. Meru finds herself trapped in a web far larger and deeper than even she realizes, illuminating hidden corners of a world dominated by secret agents of a defunct organization who have unbelievable powers, telepathy, telekinesis, even the ability to warp reality itself. The mysteries abound, who are these people, what is Mind Management, and what is Meru's connection to it all. The answers may lie with a man named Henry Lyme, but the quest for Lyme may just be a symptom of a larger disorder that is afflicting the very fabric of history itself.

MIND MGMT is an enthralling journey into a world of superspies and secret histories, unique powers and the unknown forces of global manipulation. This is a bracingly original work, the first in what promises to be a series of unique and attractive graphic novels from one of the medium's most distinct creative voices.

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