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 spotlights the “Pipe Kid” first seen in #21p20 and somewhat introduced in #22. Despite the monstrous images hidden in her smoke, the most interesting part of this image is her eyes – one pupil is much larger than the other. Also notice the whites are showing below the irises. That may seem like an odd observation, but go to a mirror and try to duplicate the look. It’s near impossible to do while holding your head level. The effect makes her look a little off, but it’s subtle enough you may not immediately realize why.
The Main Story
This issue looks like it picks up right where #31 left off a couple months ago, with Lyme has restored the memories of the Amnesia Flight victims, but it’s worth considering how much time has actually passed between the covers. Per #1, all the passengers they visited were in Los Angeles. Assuming Meru’s foster parents live in the same town she does (Lexington, Missouri), there’s been some unseen travel time. The car(s) they’ve been using haven’t been drawn with enough detail to tell if they’re the same, but if they’ve been driving across the country then the Eraser has had that much more time to plan and build. No wonder they’re so far behind her in terms of recruiting.
As Meru and Lyme split up, we’re provided an explanation for how Lyme’s been functioning since he lost his eyes (seen in #15, occurred between #6 and #7). It’s a basic one with obvious precedent, but it’s nice to know the detail wasn’t ignored.
Meru mentions Lyme picking her foster family for her. This was previously shown in #12p9. Of the blue flashback images, the one in panel 2 is from #6, and the one in panel 5 is from #29. The other two, showing Meru with her foster parents, are new.
There’s another skip in time as the next page jumps to Guanzhou with the assembled members of Meru’s group. The setting looks like the same parlor where Meru met Tana, the fortune teller from #28 (first seen #27p7), but since that bar was in Berlin, Tana must have moved her decorations to this new location. The recap of Willie Hunter on page 4 is a slight retelling of the Second Floor story for #23 with new images. The “FIND ME” message shows the solution to the code included with that second floor story. Willie’s ability to use his knowledge of history to predict the future is a new revelation, and like other seers in “MIND MGMT”, he’s grown bored and is excited by the potential for surprise when he’s near Meru.
Willie says the Monks and their histories have been compromised by the Eraser. At face value, this sounds like she’s corrupted the monks themselves, but I believe the truth is a bit deeper than that. Way back in #12, we saw the Eraser in the library alone after killing the monk guarding it. When Meru goes to read a book, she mentions there are some missing (p3). What Willie likely meant is that the Eraser has been removing memories from the monks, either before or after they write it down, and removing volumes from the library if she doesn’t like the contents. Essentially, she’s using the monks to magnify her abilities across all of history.
On page 5, Willie points out the Eraser has taken more moves than Meru. This isn’t a surprise, nearly all the former agents the Meru Crew has encountered through the series have already been contacted by the Eraser. (The most notable exception is the homemaker, who they reached at the same time.)
The members of the Eraser’s defensive line outlined by Willie on page 8 have all been introduced through various Second Floors. Fuego is featured in this issue, and will be covered below. (He previously appeared in #22 as “Fuega“.) Barbe Noir’s real name is Jedadiah Akers, as shown in #18SF. Leonard Lemon was the master of fictional weaponry seen in #21SF. The Wish is from #8SF.Continued below
When Duncan confronts Fuego on page 10, he’s using his predictive power to know Fuego won’t shoot him. The “friend in New Delhi” he mentions is the printer from last issue. In a neat touch, Duncan’s voice over on page 11 is green, just like his narration from #10. As for the poster itself, I believe “7 Seals” is a reference to “Seal Team Six“.
On page 14, Meru disobeys her instructions and allows the Wish to try an attack. This is in line with her character, who has a track record of ignoring the field guide at pretty much every opportunity since #1. The rhino the Wish pulls out is a reference to Zanzibar and the massacre, and is simultaneous attack at both Meru and Lyme. It’s ineffectiveness has nothing to do with Meru’s negating abilities, since the Wish did use an appropriate item from her pouch. Instead, this is a defining character moment that shows Meru’s foster family has filled the void left by her old one, and that Meru’s forgiveness has cured Lyme of his self-doubt.
An immortal makes an appearance on page 18, still wearing a scarf to cover the scar Bill gave her in #2p3. Her scene here, killing Willie, doesn’t seem to important, but this arc is named ‘The Immortals’. This is only the second time an immortal’s appeared in this arc, and it’s the first time the immortal’s survived the appearance.
The Pipe Kid from the cover finally appears in the story on page 20, with the destroyed set of Triple Indemnity.
The Side Text
None! Per a panel Kindt did at C2E2 this year, the field guide is only appearing one time between issues 31 and 36, which means last month’s look inside Duncan’s head was the last time we’re going to see it.
People with scissor hats? Giant eyes on the backs of their heads? Please please please please let this make it into the “MIND MGMT” film.
The dialogue in this scene matches the material seen in #13p12, but the actor in the final cut has a hat and mustache not seen here. The Pipe Kid demands the scene should take place in a bar, which seems like just another odd request for an odd movie. However, setting it in a bar allows the final cut to have the coffee cup images in the shot (#13), which are part of MIND MGMT’s ‘wake up’ code phrase for sleeper agents.
On page 23, we find out why there’s a change of actors between this take and the final version – that gun had a real bullet and the actor’s a mole. Dali promises to destroy the set, which probably explains the condition of the props seen in this month’s cliffhanger splash.
The Second Floor
After a cameo at the end of #21, #22 showed Fuego (aka Fuega) as the leader of a Berlin team in the 80s. There, Fuego was a strategist and hothead who leaned toward violence. Here, we learn Fuego doesn’t have any actual mind talents, just an unusual connection with weapons. Through the pictures, it’s clear that Fuego sees himself as part of the gun, and the gun as part of himself.
The Letter Column
You know what would be cool? A “MIND MGMT” chess set. Meru and Eraser as Queens. Lyme and Links (or maybe PK Verve?) as kings. I’d buy that.
The letter column ends with a mention of what’s coming after “MIND MGMT”, followed by some lucky numbers. This is probably a code of some kind, but it’s not one I’ve been able to crack yet. I started with a simple substitution (1=a, 2=b), but that’s gibberish. I tried a reverse (1=z, 26=a), but that’s also gibberish. Then I tried an adaptive code (1=a for the first letter, then the 1=[the first letter], and so on). Then I pulled out my copy of “2 Sisters” that had a code key inside and tried to convert the results of all the above attempts. Still gibberish. If you were able to decode it, please share in the comments. Otherwise, we may have wait and see what the title of his next book is and (maybe) work backwards.Continued below
The Back Cover
I’m not at all surprised that “Dispersion and Panic” is a floral scent. It’s probably most effective on people with allergies.
In Other News
If you haven’t heard, there will not be a 36th issue of “MIND MGMT”. Instead, there will “NEW MGMT“.
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!