Ben Rhodes

Ben Rhodes (240)

Favorite Book:  Cryptonomicon
Favorite MovieYoung Frankenstein
Favorite Absolutely Everything:  Monty Python


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You know Batman, right? He lives in Gotham City, fights the Joker, broods a lot, fights vampires and aliens, defends the rich from poor criminals, shoots people with a gun, and kills criminals. You know. Batman.

How do you end a comic series that is both pessimistic and hopeful? Like this. The final first issue of Mind New MGMT is a wonderful example of the right way to end a series. It fits within the world of the comic, wraps up the story [but not too tightly (I’m looking at you, Friends.)], and isn’t a stupid clip show *Cough*Seinfeld*Cough*. What it is, however, is somewhat light on plot and heavy on character resolution. By no means is this a negative. The penultimate issue took care of the major plot resolutions in a tremendously satisfying manner. The main thing left is to show the new direction for Meru and company.

Mind MGMT is winding down. This week, we can finally get our hands on the penultimate issue, and I can tell you that it is good. Normally, I hate using language that is too flowery or complimentary in a review. So, I try to avoid phrases like “incredible,” “my favorite series,” or “one of the best pieces of science fiction in any medium that I have ever seen.” I am a professional, after all.

There are several things that can drive a good story forward. Strong and interesting characters give you a reason to stick with a story. Striking visuals and writing can keep your attention and occasionally knock the wind out of you. A driving plot can relentlessly pull you through the story. Generally, in order to succeed, a story needs at least two of these. There are a few great books, comics, and movies that succeed with just one of these pillars, and not to call any particular movie out, but the Transformers movies have made a ton of money without interesting characters, comprehensible visuals, or a coherent plot. Rarely does a story excel at all three pillars of storytelling. Because you are a perceptive reader, you probably figured out that Mind MGMT does.

As Mind MGMT grinds to a conclusion, it seems less and less likely that everything will resolve neatly for our plucky heroes. They have all been damaged in one way or another, and it looks like it isn’t getting any easier. The latest issue follows Duncan, who can see fifteen minutes into the future and kill you by pointing at you, and Perrier, a novelist who can incapacitate you with a haiku, as they try to recruit a few more agents to fight the mysterious and deadly Eraser.

How do you arrange a meeting with someone who can make everyone forget anything? You can’t trust a public place if none of the witnesses can remember a thing. This is just one of the challenges Meru faces as she prepares to face The Eraser for the final time. The previous sentence should be read in as intense a voice as possible. There should also be several pauses. For dramatic. Effect.

Meru has started to take control of her own trajectory in the latest issue of Mind MGMT, and it is glorious. She has always been one of my favorite characters, from her early days as a frightened audience surrogate to the capable and determined crusader that stands alone against the hordes of ruthless psychics. (Ed. Wow, that got pretty hyperbolic at the end.) No longer able to follow Lyme and Duncan, she is finally charting her own path. It has been fun watching her grow into the role. The new issue shows how strong she is, without losing track of what she has been through.

Matt Kindt’s excellent series, Mind MGMT, feels like it is approaching the final showdown between Mind MGMT and Meru’s group of rebels. The last issue brought Meru’s quest to the secret hideaway of Sir Francis, the unkillable first immortal. (Redundant, I know.) Unfortunately, they have conflicting goals. She wants him to train her and teach her about the origins of Mind Management. He has survived more than is imaginable and wants her to kill him. I don’t think it counts as a spoiler to say that we get to see a fascinating history lesson.

Well, he’s done it again. Matt Kindt has surprised me in a comic where I always expect an unusual twist. In the last issue, Meru was sent on a mission to find the first immortal. In this issue, she breaks the rules in order to find him. Along the way, we learn a little more about the history of everyone’s favorite mind management agency. Sir Francis, the first immortal, looks like he might be a powerful ally for Meru, who is running out of allies at the moment. There is also a fun moment where a bit of the structure of the series takes on a totally different light.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the excellent and weird Bigfoot: Sword of the Earthman, here is a quick primer. Bigfoot (yes, of “And the Hendersons” fame) is caught up in the beginnings of a revolution on Mars. This comic takes its cues from the pulpy sci-fi of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard. I tend to think of this comic as Conan the Barbarian meets John Carter of Mars, with Bigfoot. B:SotE keeps a straight face through all the weirdness, but the scenarios play out exactly like the stories a kid makes up when playing with action figures.

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