The most striking thing about Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT is the art style, done with loose pen and watercolor sketches. It’s like nothing I’ve seen before in a graphic novel, and definitely gives the book a unique flavor. I will admit, however, that although the art is interesting, it isn’t entirely to my personal taste. I like that Kindt did something original with his style, but I had a hard time accepting the art as a stylistic choice instead of something that just felt a bit amateurish. A variant cover by Gilbert Hernandez included at the end of the book made me wish for a version of this story told using Hernandez’ clear, bold style instead.
As for the book’s story, it focuses on an investigative journalist named Meru who is trying to write a follow-up to her bestselling first book after two years with no success and dwindling funds. When she hears a recap of a story about a strange “amnesia flight” where all the passengers lost – and never regained – their memories, Meru calls her agent and suggests it as the topic of her second book. Her agent is skeptical, but agrees to fund a trip to Mexico for Meru to investigate a possibly connected event and try to track down a missing member of the amnesia flight, a man named Henry Lyme.
Throughout the book, an unnamed stranger dispassionately narrated Meru’s adventures, claiming she is following a series of “breadcrumbs” left behind to point her in the right direction. Everything Meru does seems pre-ordained, and she finds herself unable to escape ever-present feelings of déjà vu, or the CIA agents and unkillable couple who follow her every move. Each chapter of the book includes a case file on an individual with supernatural powers recruited by a mysterious agency called Mind Management. The more Meru uncovers, the more it becomes clear that Mind Management is the source of it all. All of this strangeness converges in a meeting between Meru and the man named Henry Lyme.
Although the story is full of interesting concepts, it feels like the tone of the narration keeps everything at arm’s length. Character development is minimal, and the dialogue is all very one-note. Henry Lyme’s story is the most interesting part of the book, but in the end I didn’t get very invested because the characters felt like tools of the plot and not real human beings. This is the first volume of an ongoing series, but I’m not sure where the story might go from here; the book wraps up enough that this could serve as a standalone story.
Overall, I thought the book was a decent enough read, but I don’t plan on reading further volumes of this series.
Full disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from NetGalley.