*Warning – you may believe there are spoilers ahead*
Some stories keep you holding on for dear life, some stories you lose from the start but there are some that hold out a hand and guide you through to the very end. Like a kind soul keeping you smiling and happy, that is how I feel about Mind MGMT. In this the penultimate issue, it is almost time to say goodbye to Meru, her fellow agents and all the secrets that came along with it. Our protagonist enters the headquarters of the new Mind MGMT, an upside pyramid in order to depose it’s head, the Eraser. Each side has former agents with a veritable and incredible set of powers. These include people who can predict the future, create illusions, form multiples of themselves and control the environment around them. Instantly you can imagine how difficult it is to show a confrontation between these sets of powers. But that is what Matt Kindt has been doing since the beginning and in spectacular fashion. The issue where Henry and Meru capture Duncan the futurist, is very cunningly written and depicted. This is what the book does best, delicate touches and high concept ideas.
This plot appears to be a straightforward narrative but almost every part of the comic is building the Mind MGMT phenomenon. You will notice the pages themselves are scanned on original art pages, with margins and bleed areas. In these borders there are sometimes additional notes, a side story, fortune cookie wishes and as with the earlier issues, an actual piece of prose. If you pay attention to these and excavate the meanings then the story comes together with just a little more sense. But the satisfaction of digging for clues is what makes the rewards all the more joyous. And that is what this final issue does for you; it amalgamates all the agents lost, found, alive and dead with clever uses of their powers to create a story not really set on this plane of reality anymore. The narrative and plot development takes on an existential element and what becomes a battle of powers becomes a battle of the mind. Not only to the characters themselves but also to the person reading it.
For a creator to write, draw and paint every comic is a formidable achievement. Even his covers present a unique array of styles, prior to this final arc, which all were manifestations of Kindt’s imagination and graphic design background. His heart and soul is poured into this book and that passion is wrought out in every issue. There is nothing unintentional and everything is part of a thousand piece intricate jigsaw. His watercolour-based artwork is not the most aesthetic technically but conveys feelings and emotion with the subtlest of movements. Meru’s eyes range from being loving to vindictive with a quick stroke of the brush. Her actions don’t always flow but they are always poignant with moments of aggression to paralysing weakness.
There is a remarkable ingenious page where she presents a notebook of agents that have died, and the pencil detail in those sketches is more complex than any of the art in the book. This highlights that his watercolours are there to portray the story and emotion first and foremost. The opening pages show Meru crippled on the floor and the inking is scraggly and exaggerated to show her injuries. The panels depicting Dusty’s army are gruesome and yet so very upsetting as they run to survive. It is almost as if Matt deliberately makes it look messy and untidy. And then there are splash pages that are stunning with incredible composition and gorgeous background colouring. In reality what Matt Kindt is doing is using his artwork to actually be a metaphor for the story, extrapolating the most poignant moments. An example of this is how Meru is falling as her mind disintegrates and the art breaks into irregular panels. Or when Meru and the Eraser standoff and both of their hair flows into each other as they talk, signifying their unified intent.
Kindt tiptoes that line between fantasy and reality but stops short of falling either side of it. The story may become confusing at times and the special powers of the agents may be more esoteric to truly represent with his watercolours, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. This is a book borne from fantasy trying to keep a grip on reality. And if you read the first story arc, that statement would apply then as it does now. There is a level of inventiveness that keeps you surprised and smiling at the revelations. The idea that the headquarters of the agency is built on self-belief, as are the memories of its agents is so difficult to demonstrate. These concepts are borne throughout the entire book and the Eraser utilises them in her final gambit. But that is where the twist is so clever as Meru has to reconcile who she was with who she is now. The personal growth of her character is the akin to the personal growth of the book and the architecture of Mind MGMT. Where Meru once represented the tattered agency, bereft of leadership and structure, it’s rebuilding paralleled her ascendance in power and responsibility. The inverted pyramid is a wonderfully apt metaphor because as the issues grew, so did the structure from just one block, upwards and outwards. Matt Kindt whirls and pirouettes his way through reality and dreams with his pens, pencils, and brushes. Mind MGMT is a wonderfully enigmatic and entrancing story, and a book to revel in for a long time to come, but I wonder when it finally ends, will we remember it at all?