The Sequential sale finishes tomorrow so now is the time to pick up something. And if you’re interested in spy fiction, you need to check out Mind MGMT Volume 1.
Meru is a journalist and she’s worried she’s missed the boat. Her first book was huge but since then she’s had trouble focusing, hasn’t been able to settle and is starting to run out of time and money. Until she discovers a lead in the case of the Amnesia Flight. Everyone aboard Flight 815 spontaneously lost their memories and, to this day, have yet to get them back. Now, Meru thinks she might have a lead. What she doesn’t know, is just where it will take her…
Matt Kindt is an extraordinary talent and this, the series that really put him on the map for me, gives you every indication of why. For a start his art style is remarkable. The loose penmanship and fluid colours look almost abstract at times and put me in mind of Jeff Lemire’s beautifully Lost Dogs. But where that’s a book that uses the style to show the brutality of humanity, this uses it to show the fluidity of reality. This is very nearly the last conspiracy story you need ever read; one where your own memories and experiences are as deniable, as hackable as the world around you.
That alone would make this good. What makes it exceptional is the way that Kindt digs into that idea of uncertainty and shows us the very human cost behind it. The book’s entire first half focuses on Meru and a CIA agent who assists her as they run across the world looking for answers. Meru’s lost her purpose, the agent has lost his partner and they’re adrift on a constantly shifting current of lies. It’s a chilling section that echoes the final hour of The Terminator. Two people cut loose from the world struggling to survive long enough to find out how to get back to it. It’s compelling, bleak stuff.
And then you get to the second half of the book and everything changes. There’s a monologue in JFK, delivered by Donald Sutherland’s character, which is just an amazing piece of cinema. It’s a symphonic crescendo of implication and horror delivered in Sutherland’s glorious voice that sweeps you up into the reassuringly terrifying world it describes. They ARE here. They DO know where you are. The calls ARE coming from inside the house.
That monologue is knocked into a cocked hat by the explanation Meru gets. And, better still, by what follows. Kindt pulls the curtain all the way back and shows us the world she’s been struggling to understand. It’s remarkable because it’s so perfectly well thought out but also because of how tragic it is. The psychic abilities at the heart of the book can’t touch the human tendency to assume the worst and as a result even the most powerful spy is rendered painfully fallible. It’s a tragic, completely understandable way to end the first volume and it leaves you with enough answered questions to be satisfied. But, like Meru, you’ll be back for. I know I will.