Because each issue of Matt Kindt’s monthly series is overflowing with interwoven narratives, a standard review just doesn’t cut it. This column will provide in-depth analysis and help you navigate the overlapping plots.
This month, Meru is standing atop a pile of dead bodies. Her sash and sword are strikingly similar to the ones she had in Dusty’s image of her in #9, p6. The print on the sash and the hilt of the sword are different, but still pretty similar.
There are lots of familiar faces in among the dead. Bill’s near the top, then going down we see Spain, Natasha, and the Bear. On the other side, we have the monk from Shangri-la in issue 12, Brinks, Dusty, and the scarred immortal. Since this is a pile of characters who are confirmed to be dead, my long-running theory about the Bear still being alive and active has to be abandoned. Conspicuous by their absence here: the first Perrier twin, PK Verve, and Bill’s CIA partner. They were probably left out for space reasons, though.
The Main Story
As Meru rises back to the surface and boards Taurus’ boat, we see she did an astounding job of repairing the umbrella. When Taurus sees it, he reveals himself to be one of the Eraser’s agents. This explains a lot, like him diving in the area hundreds of times without any clear reason. It also explains an odd panel from a couple issues ago.
In #26, p19, Francis is describing how he became an immortal. The page is a nine panel grid, and mixed in with images of modern Francis and past events is one of a bull’s head. The guide for that page urges us to pay attention to speech patterns of potential enemy agents. Bull. Enemy agent. Taurus. This was a reveal we all should have seen coming.
As Meru and Taurus scuffle on page three, the three panel sequence of her getting knocked in the head, blacking out, and then coming to is a great representation of a fight. It’s also a subtle way to remind us that even though Meru has come along way since issue one, she’s not invulnerable.
Kostas helps Meru get to Berlin where she starts hunting for Lyme and Duncan. The cafe she enters and the bartender were both previously seen in #19, p17-19. She wasn’t exactly friendly then, but now it’s clear the bartender was working with the Eraser when she sent Lyme and Duncan to meet Giant Jim. As the patrons converge on Meru, two of them are seen to have the same tattoo – there’s a star on the forehead of a fellow on p8pn3 and on the back of the neck of the pink Mohawk woman on p9.
Page 10 gives us a brief look into some of the abilities of the former agents, including the bearded goggle fellow first seen in the retirement home in #21p20 and Hopper Finn, the sleep paralysis agent from the second floor of #26. He looks much worse for wear, though.
Page 11 has a montage of images cast by Meru, and they’re all more superheroic than what we’ve seen before. The two on the left remind me of Nova and Ghost Rider, and the one on the top right looks like Ninjak. Oh, and the punk rocker one on bottom is punching a guy in the mouth so hard his eye’s popped out.
Tana’s questions to Meru on page 14 may seem simple and benign, but they take on new importance given Francis’ explanation of Meru’s powers last issue. When Tana asks “Do you believe…” she’s not just setting a mood or trying to pique interest. Since Meru’s skepticism can negate powers, what Tana is really doing is asking Meru for permission to use her abilities. If Meru had said no instead of yes, Tana would be powerless.
Neither the art nor the coloring draw attention to it, but if you look around Tana on page 15, you’ll notice lots of empty bottles strewn on the floor. Evidently, life hasn’t been easy while she waited for Meru.Continued below
After looking around the retirement home, Meru travels to Londonderry, Ireland to find Anthers Kindle, the dream walker. The road sign on page 20 lists Londonderry and Inistioge. If those sound familiar, it’s because in the DHP 31 short story about Anthers, she mentions driving from Londonderry to Inistioge every other day. The external shot of the safe house in Londonderry is also from DHP 31. The Quill sign is part of “The Broken Quill,” a used book shop where Anthers has worked for ten years. The safe house is Cirillo’s Pub, which was also seen in the background of a DHP 31 panel. The bartender at Cirillo’s decorates his pub with some of the Ad Man’s art.
Anthers begins narrating on page 21, and her captions remain yellow, like they were in DHP 31. She mentions not being able to dream walk lately, and it’s probably due to Meru’s proximity.
The Field Guide
The first five guides in this issue apply to Meru’s fight with Taurus, and she violates all of them. They also suggest Taurus may have been an immortal. Guide 28.6 mentions drowning as a successful way to nullify an immortal, but cautions it as not being fully tested. It’s obviously not a foolproof method, because the scarred immortal grew gills in #6.
Guides 28.8 and 28.9 say the use of a safe house by anyone other than retired or inactive agents is strictly prohibited. These two are somewhat redundant now – since MIND MGMT disbanded, every agent is retired or inactive.
Guide 28.18 says it’s inadvisable to pair two agents in the field. Were Duncan and Lyme violating this when they had missions together, or were they always two members of a larger committee?
Not much to it this month. Narration informs us Idris convinced the POTUS to support the new agency. This will probably give the Eraser a boost just when it will hurt Meru the most.
The Second Floor
Tana takes the spotlight, and we get some very interesting insights. She was raised by the same South American tribe that took in Sir Francis, but this was before they took him in. That doesn’t mean she’s older than Francis – he met them when he was about 40, so Tana could’ve been raised and left before he arrived – but it does mean she’s at least close to the same age. While she does look like she’s aged, she’s probably got some immortal in her. That raises the question of whether this tribe knows the secrets of immortality, and if Francis was really the first.
The Letter Column
The Scribbler Strikes Again!
These letters are always a treat to read. I spotted two hidden messages this time: The capital letters on the envelope spell out “HELP IS ON THE WAY.” The first letters of each sentence in the main body spell out “MIND MANAGEMENT IS OFF THE RACK.”
The Back Cover
The European map helps put this issue’s travels in perspective. The plot started in Greece, at the site of the underwater training facility. Then it moved to Berlin, where the Bear died. (Incidentally, this is yet another nail in my “The Bear is alive” theory…). Then Meru makes her way to Ireland to visit the Dreamwalker.
The fourth marker is for “Triple Indemnity,” the fake film that first appeared in #13. Apparently is was produced and/or directed by artist Salvador Dali.
And that’s all for this month
If you spotted something I missed, or if you had a different interpretation of events, please share your thoughts in the comments!