Matt Kindt's current series revisits the espionage theme he has used before (most notably in the Super Spy books). But this time we are dealing with a secret organization that can actually rewrite reality, through various sophisticated, powerful mind control techniques. A young journalist named Meru stumbles across the Mind Management program while investigating the story of the mysterious Flight 815, a commercial flight where everyone aboard lost their memories. Everyone except a missing passenger named Henry Lyme: so Meru begins looking for him, following an enigmatic series of clues. She is convinced that he holds the key to the mystery.
I'm reading the hardcover collection, but I know that the individual issues follow the theme through in all of the details of the book design, including the cover and fake advertisements. Kindt chose not to reproduce the whole package in the collection. But there are still two unusual structural elements. The first is the MIND MGMT FIELD GUIDE that runs across the left margin of most of the pages in small blue type. Each page contains a short entry that usually bears some relation to the action on the page. I struggled with how to read these at first. If you read each one as you read the story it interrupts the flow, so I finally chose to read each chapter of the main story, then go back and read the Field Guide entries. They give insight into how the MIND MGMT organization functions, although in the beginning they seem to be largely independent from the action. That begins to change in the fourth chapter, where someone begins breaking through the formal text to attempt to communicate directly with the reader (who I think is supposed to be Meru, the heroine).
Each issue also ends with a "MIND MGMT Case File," telling the story of various MIND MGMT operatives. These two-page stories provide a direct look into how the organization functions, as well as the special talents some of their agents possess.
Meru finally gets to Henry Lyme, having missed the Field Guide messages to leave with her CIA companion Bill. Lyme tells her his whole story. He possesses extremely powerful mental powers, perhaps the strongest ever found. Horrified by some of the things he has done for the MIND MGMT organization, and unable to feel sure of the reality of anything, he attempted to resign. The amnesia flight was an unforeseen side-effect of his mental command forcing anyone who saw him to forget him. He rescued Meru from an earlier disaster, and has used her as his confessor by leaving the mental clues she followed to find him.
As she leaves him she wonders why he is letting her go. She realizes she will forget everything, so she writes down Lyme's story and mails it to herself, convinced she has beaten the mind control. When she returns home we see a repeat of the opening scenes of the series: an empty apartment, unpaid bills, and a bright idea for a new book. A neighbor intercepts the Mind Management case files she had mailed (which also reveal her last name to be Marlow), telling an unknown agent on the phone that he did it to protect her, not the organization. We have been seeing a recurring cycle; there is no telling how long Meru has been locked into this circle.
The collection also includes the #0 issue, which I believe was originally available only online. It contains three short stories (collectively labelled "Secret Files") following Meru's earlier attempts to learn about the MIND MGMT organization. Each one tells the story of a notable operative, making them slightly longer versions of the Case Files that conclude the other issues. One of them describes an attempt to assassinate Lyme (as did the Case File at the end of Issue #5): he appears to be an extremely hard man to kill, to say the least. I'm sure that will form a significant part of the ongoing narrative, along with Meru's attempts to retain the results of her research somehow. It's awfully difficult to prove the existence of an organization that is capable of erasing all traces of its existence, even memories. It will be interesting to see how Kindt solves that puzzle.
I like Kindt's sly references to classic noir detective stories here, also. Henry Lyme must be intended to recall the character Harry Lime in Graham Greene's "The Third Man." And Meru Marlow is surely a nod to Raymond Chandler's great private detective Philip Marlowe.