The phrase that’s catching my attention about the conclusion of Mind MGMT with New MGMT #1, which arrived in shops this week, is that it’s the “end of an era”. Matt Kindt has said before that the world of Mind MGMT might not be totally over and closed since there are side-avenues which could still be explored. But not for now. Now he’s moving on to work on Dept. H, among other things like Past Aways and his Valiant work.
I can see why people feel that it’s the end of an era. I don’t think it’ll fully sink in until I have all the hardback volumes in a row and see it as a contained thing. But even then won’t I hope for some other little volume that’s going to be added at some future date? The world of Mind MGMT expands and contracts—it’s elastic, and everywhere, highly given to the power of suggestion, and relentlessly volatile. I can’t really think of it as over the way that Kindt and his editor, Brendan Wright, must be able to think of it.
In formal writing about literature, we’re taught to always use the present tense to describe the events of a story when narrating, because the use of time in a text is not “real” time. That mandate in college, to me, always seemed to acknowledge the superiority of literature to human life rather than to limit or sequester it. In literature, it is always “now”, and things in any time and place are immediate and in motion. That is definitely how I think of just about every page of Mind MGMT. Even though I can see the sequential determination of cause and effect and the ways that some events follow on from others, each page of the story seems to have its own temporal space to me and its interrelationships to other pages that are not always based on time and place but can be based on characters, objects, phrases, or ideas. That makes it even easier to see the whole of Mind MGMT in the present tense.
That’s one of the reasons that concluding the series with New MGMT #1 is really fitting to me as a reader. It does help set that issue apart. It actually helps me make sure that I break that story away from the others and give it a little extra space and consideration. As bizarre as it may sound, I think we can look at the “last” issue of Mind MGMT as a pared down, simplified message because it is New MGMT and stands alongside the others. It helps me see and hear the story differently. This issue seems to be about human beings. The simplicity of that statement is in keeping with the nature of the storytelling in this issue. I feel that in this particular issue we are able to look at the characters not as agents but as people. This is not the first time we have been able to do that—it was a steady alternation throughout the series. But this is so pronounced that it feels like the first time that’s all we’re seeing.
I’d like to think this is the reversal that Meru has accomplished. Remember that all these people were raised since childhood in heavy indoctrination and control. They were shaped and created by the MGMT. Throughout this massive story, the extreme, violent, bloody, and costly conflicts we have witnessed have been predominantly down to the struggle between maintaining that original control and breaking free of it. I think we saw it all come down in the previous issue in the psycho-physical breakdown of the new headquarters. It seems that the two opposite positions had totally destroyed each other and there would be nothing left.
But when the agents and the MGMT were destroyed and the debris was cleared away, there were some people remaining in their place. Are they still agents? No. Are they agents again? Maybe. There’s been a massive break, a necessary one, in continuity. Everything is changed. There’s been a tremendous sense of the weight and the guilt of the past throughout the series and that is totally wiped away in this issue. It’s the first time we’ve seen the narrative swept clean of it. And so we see the human beings clearly and we watch with interest what they will do now, operating on such an open field. And what we see them getting up to is pretty cool.
They’re engaging in the last of the clean up. They aren’t being complacent. They are addressing their personal demons the way people have to. And not as agents. Lyme is trying to figure out how he can “let go”. Meru is delegating to strategy. We see little signs that the world is changing for the better under a new way of doing things as agents—a loose two part cell system of checks. Because the relentlessly rolling wheel of payback seemed to constantly crush the world of Mind MGMT due to the bad , well, disastrously arrogant, decisions of the past, seeing even one thing go “right” in the comic feels like a miracle.
So Matt Kindt ends Mind MGMT on a miracle. Human beings not being alone. Having learned something, however small. Doing something about it. And because it’s a story, that discovery gets to always be “now”, too. Thanks for the eternal good thought, Matt.
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