Writer/Artist: Matt Kindt
Published by Dark Horse
In my review of Matt Kindt’s MIND MGMT Vol. 1, I wrote that I preordered the second volume instantly upon finishing volume 1. I was that engrossed in the series, completely sucked into its reality and the world Matt Kindt created. Does the second volume hold up to the first?
Yup. And then some.
What surprised me the most about The Futurist is that it doesn’t turn away from the mysteries raised in volume 1. Maybe my expectations have been poisoned by shows like Lost, but I expected things to be dragged out much more than this. Kindt jumps right back into the core mysteries surrounding our lead characters, Meru and Henry Lyme, and even provides some answers. All while raising more questions, obviously.
Mind MGMT Vol 2 follows Henry and Meru as they gather other former operatives of the eponymous (and supposedly defunct) shadowy government organization, with the intention of finding out what’s really happening with them, and why so many agents seem to still be active. Their journey takes them around the world, and all the way to Mind MGMT’s mysterious training facility, Shangri-la. Like volume 1, a lot of plot elements of Kindt’s story seem familiar on the surface, and even a little stale. But the real appeal of the story is in its style, and how it uses those elements in surprising ways. Kindt has an original spin on his concepts, and even when he doesn’t, it’s because he’s using our familiarity with these concepts to ease the story along.
One of the most fun elements of the story is the powers and abilities Kindt has come up with for the agents. When you hear “superpowered beings being trained at a hidden school”, you think X-Men. You think optic force blasts, claws, lightning, telekinesis, super strength. Kindt’s characters have powers that are primarily subversive in nature. An artist who can plant irresistible subconscious messages in his work (he becomes an advertising executive – he’s known as “The Adman”). A telepath who can simultaneously and effortlessly read the minds of everyone and everything in a 5 mile radius, so he can effectively always see what’s about to happen (“The Futurist”). It’s this man – Duncan Jones – who we get to know the most through this volume, and he’s a fascinating character because of his strange ability.
Duncan doesn’t seem to “read” minds in the Professor X sense. He just gets a quick gleaning of things, an impression of what’s going on around him. He’s irresistible to women, not because he’s so handsome but because he always knows exactly what to say, or when to back off. He can charm anyone for the same reason. He’s been used for missions of subversion, manipulating events and keeping people copacetic. Assassins can’t get to him, because he always seems to know they’re there and what they’re up to and he avoids it. He can’t even get into an accident, because his ability lets him know every minute detail of everything around him – if some truck drivers’ mind is wandering, Duncan knows it and doesn’t cross the street. He’s completely impossible to take by surprise (he also seems to get impressions from animals – birds can’t even crap on him!) And he’s incredibly bored. Wouldn’t you be, if you could see everything coming all the time and always know what to do? Where’s the challenge?
It’s this off-kilter approach to superhuman abilities, and how they’d affect a person’s outlook on life, that makes Kindt’s approach to his characters fascinating. He’s not interested in “with great power comes great responsibility”, so much as “with great power comes no semblance whatsoever of a normal life”. In particular, he seems interested in uncontrollable, subversive mental abilities like Duncan’s or the Adman’s, and Lyme’s mental influence over anyone surrounding him, which underscores this point even more. How would you behave if your every mood swing altered the behavior of everyone in your city? Or if you could effortlessly and instinctively know exactly what to say to any girl, or on a job interview? How would you control yourself? Would you control yourself? There’s only one character in Mind MGMT - Bill Falls- that seems to have a purely physical ability, though even that is misleading in it’s application. He appears to be super strong, but he actually has an ability similar to Karnak (of Marvel’s Inhumans) in that he can see the inherent flaws in everything (and of course, with an ability distinct from the other characters, Bill is operating on his own agenda).
Like volume 1, The Futurist makes use of mysterious messages hidden in the margins of each page to add to the story, while simultaneously making you question what you’re reading. You could read this book while ignoring the notes, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You’d be missing a big part of the experience and the puzzle-box appeal of the story. The notes explain some elements of the plot, expand on others, and sometimes seem to undermine what you’re reading. Like vol. 1, Mind MGMT vol. 2 is designed to engage the reader.
Should you buy it?: Definitely, but only if you’ve already read The Manager. I expected The Futurist to expand the mythology if the book and put the mysteries on the back burner, but instead I got a much more immersive experience that did both. It’s one of those books that had me re-reading the first book. Matt Kindt continues to put out one of the most engaging books on the market.
And yes, I’ve pre-ordered volume 3.