When I reviewed MIND MGMT Volume 1: The Manager, it took me a little time to get used to Matt Kindt's garage-art style, but the story itself pulled me in from the opening pages and had a fantastic payoff in the end. Part of the strength of that first collection was the fact that Kindt didn't know if anyone would buy the series, so he structured those first six issues in a way that had a solid beginning, middle, and end, just in case it was actually going to be the end.
Luckily, it wasn't.
The success of that first arc means that Kindt may actually get to see his Three Year Plan through to fulfillment, which is a good thing. However, it also means that the plotting for the second volume, MIND MGMT Volume 2: The Futurist (which collects MIND MGMT #7-12, a story from Dark Horse Presents #19, and comic strips from io9.com) is a little looser and ultimately a little less satisfying.
But only a little.
As far as the actual storytelling goes, this is still maybe the densest book on the market. Most of The Futurist contains excerpts from our main character Meru's true-crime novel Premeditated, and as with the marginalia of Volume 1, there are nicely crafted parallels between what happens in that text and the actual comic, page by page. Sometimes it's a thematic similarity, sometimes events from both narratives coincide.
Over the first part of the book, there is also text in the bottom margin that explains, as we discover at its conclusion, the process by which an Assassination Letter is created and delivered — as well as hints about the establishment of Assassination Letter protocols. What's an Assassination Letter? Read the book.
As far as the main story, Kindt opens up the world of MIND MGMT this time around with only minimal rehashing of events from Volume 1. Meru, our amnesiac heroine from Volume 1 is back, drawn into the world of psychic spies and assassins thanks to a mysterious letter (hmmmm?) that arrives on a Sunday morning. Sensing something is up with the letter, she sets out to discover who sent it, only to follow a daisy-chain of people who don't know anything except who passed on the letter to them. Her ability to accomplish this is strange in itself, and leads to the central reveal of this volume.
But it's once she reaches the end of the line there, that the story begins in earnest with the reappearance of Lyme, a murder, and a globe-hopping journey to recruit allies against The Eraser. Who's the Eraser? Good question. The Eraser is an agent trying to reform MIND MGMT, but that's only part of the story; the rest of which is parceled out over the course of these six issues, demonstrating just how interconnected everything Kindt puts on the page really is.
Really, just read the book.
My favorite part of this collection, though, is the attention paid to Duncan, our titular Futurist. Duncan is the character from Volume 1 who could see the future by reading the minds of those around him and formulating a sense of inevitability based on everyone's intentions. He's a nicely tragic character who is also a major badass at the same time. The chapter devoted to his time spent amusing himself as a private investigator is brilliant, right down to the side text detailing the thoughts of everyone around him in the comic panels — even the animals.
Back in the main story, before everything is said and done, we know secrets that had only been suggested, we've gone places no one is supposed to go, alliances form that shouldn't and alliances shift that were always destined to shift. It all culminates in an open-ended finale that lacks the sense of closure Volume 1 had, but signals a willingness to go big and pull the rug out from under all of our characters.
And it's all told in that scratchy pen and ink with watercolor wash art that I've learned to love. At first glance it's a seemingly casual approach to the visual storytelling, but every page is filled with hints and details that expand the interpretations of what is happening in the narrative action. Seriously, the visuals are as dense with meaning as the actual text. And Kindt's use of color with those washes is just beautiful. MIND MGMT really has the feel of an actual physical artifact rather than something created digitally and mass produced.
So, while Volume 1 could have stood on its own as a single story, Volume 2 is clearly intent on carrying on to the bitter end. Be warned. If you read Volume 2: The Futurist, you will have to keep reading MIND MGMT. It's that good. Even without the appearance of the talking dolphins.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor/editor for Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is available at Amazon US & UK, along with his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creation (US & UK). He recently contributed the 1989 chapter to The American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1980s (US & UK) and has kicked off Comics Bulletin Books with Mondo Marvel Volumes One (US & UK) and Two (US & UK). Paul is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy.