Mind MGMT Vol 1: The Manager , written and illustrated by Matt Kindt, begins an espionage series involving mind control and government conspiracy (available April 23, 2013).
There is no such thing as magic: there is only mind over matter. This is the basic premise behind Mind MGMT, a trade paperback centered around the activities of a quasi-governmental agency devoted to using the power of the mind to fight its battles, physical or otherwise. Its operatives are capable of amazing feats, as true-crime writer Meru Marlow discovers in her quest to uncover the truth behind the so-called Amnesia Flight, a plane on which 119 of the 121 people aboard completely forgot their pasts mid-flight. The only people unaffected were a 7-year-old boy and Henry Lyme, a passenger who seemed to promptly disappear upon landing.
Meru herself has struggled to write another book since the publication of her initial bestseller two years ago. She’s running out of money despite living in a small town, and is desperate to make amends to the people she knows she’s letting down with her prolonged inability to write.
As she researches Amnesia Flight, doubts about her abilities begin to creep into her mind:
She starts to get frustrated. The dreams keep cycling. Unconsciously, she searches another bookstore to see if they carry her book. To prove to herself that she is who she thinks she is. A writer. And it’s just a matter of time for the follow-up. And she tries to forget that she’s once again at the end of her rope. No money. No leads […] Her agent is still helpful. But she can tell in his voice that this is her last shot… This is the last time he’s going to help her get to the end of the mystery.
He advances her the money to fly to Mexico on the trail of Henry Lyme, and it’s there that things start to go haywire. A CIA agent stumbles into her hotel room warning of imminent danger, just as two terrifying strangers close in on them. Bill, the CIA agent, shoots the assailants at close-range, giving him and Meru time to hop on a flight to the next destination she’s uncovered on the trail of Lyme. With the CIA now bankrolling her investigation, Meru thinks she can breathe a little more freely… but that’s before the same couple that Bill shot show up again, undeterred by their earlier encounter with his bullets.
Meru and Bill begin to bond as they embark on a global race to find the mysterious Henry Lyme before their seemingly immortal pursuers can either stop them or get to him first. What Meru doesn’t know is that Lyme already knows more about her than she can imagine, and that finding him may lead to the most devastating repercussions for her and Bill both.
The world of Mind MGMT is so well thought-out that fascinating little excerpts such as these, purportedly from their agent field guides, run along the margins:
MIND MGMT FIELD GUIDE 2.11. If forced to actually audibly communicate with another agent in the field, always use Brain-Embedded Words to convey the true meaning of your message.
MIND MGMT FIELD GUIDE 2.12. When Brain-Embedded Words start to break down, any physical meeting should immediately be concluded until a new safe zone can be found.
This book isn’t just a covert operations thriller with a paranormal twist though. Intriguingly, Matt Kindt has used the idea of psychic spies to frame a moving treatise on the consequences of self-doubt and the damage that can be wrought by obscuring the past. In addition to the excellent main story, Kindt has also included several vignettes about Mind MGMT operatives, as well as of their opposite numbers in foreign employ. Each short illuminates more of Meru’s heart-breaking tale, so should be considered essential reading for fans. Kindt’s signature watercolor-and-pen artwork serves as always to lend a dream-like quality to the proceedings, apropos considering that the opening scene posits why dreams should have the ability to surprise you when they’re the product of your own mind.
One of the best things about this collection though is that there’s more to come. While this volume was a satisfying whole on its own, I’m very excited to see where Kindt takes this series next. I greatly enjoy his ability to use the genre format to ask hard questions about complex moral choices.
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Doreen Sheridan is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. She microblogs on Twitter @dvaleris.
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