Writer: Alan Moore | Illustrator: Dave Gibbons | Colorist: John Higgins
Setting: New York City, 1985
Genre: Comics & Graphic Novels
Published by DC Comics
Hugo Award (1988) | Named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Best Novels
The strength of Watchmen as a graphic novel lies not only in its great illustrations and story, but also of its treatment of masked crusaders and superheroes. This graphic novel did not aim to glorify their presence in the world. It focused on the dissection and deconstruction of masked heroes and superheroes, as well as the exploration of the paradoxes of their existence and purpose. Obviously there is a distinction between superheroes and masked ones, the latter as vulnerable as all of us, but possess the right skills and perhaps intuition to fight the bad guys. There’s something visceral and profound in the exploration of these lives. They are driven to defend people but also need to deal with their own lives and relationships. They are human after all – they may evoke power but they also have their flaws. Such complexities and quandaries abound not only in the characters but the events that transpire within the graphic novel. There are stories within stories, philosophical at times and full of symbolism. This is what makes it so deep and dense. I found myself going back to some pages to fully assimilate what is being said and where the story is going to.
There is also the dilemma everyone is facing, whether they are superheroes or ordinary people. Commentaries are not given sparsely. There is Rorschach’s psychiatrist and a newspaper vendor that lends more depth to the entire story by giving us their own observations not only of the characters but the world they live in. They give us an insight into the characters’ minds, revealing their reality and struggles while also discussing the more weighty subjects like war, child abuse and violence. Their voices ground you to the nature of being human just as much as the masked heroes’ lives.
Watchmen is a very complex and compelling story, well worth a second or even a third read. This graphic novel broke grounds when it was released and it deserves all of its accolades.
Should you read it?
“I’ll leave it entirely in your hands“
Full review in my blog
Mind MGMT, Volume 1: The Manager
Writer/ Artist/ Cover Artist: Matt Kindt
Genre: Comics & Graphic Novels • Science Fiction • Action & Adventure
Setting: USA • Mexico • China • Baghdad, Iraq • Tanzania
Published April 2013 by Dark Horse | Collects MIND MGMT #1-#6
Literary Awards: iBooks Best of 2013 (accomplished graphic novels) • YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens (Top Ten) (2014)
Synopsis: Reporting on a commercial flight where everyone aboard lost their memories, a young journalist stumbles onto a much bigger story, the top-secret Mind Management program. Her ensuing journey involves weaponized psychics, hypnotic advertising, talking dolphins, and seemingly immortal pursuers, as she attempts to find the flight’s missing passenger, the man who was MIND MGMT’s greatest success—and its most devastating failure. But in a world where people can rewrite reality itself, can she trust anything she sees? (Darkhorse Comics Website)
If I can describe this book in one sentence, it would be: The action never ends.
Matt Kindt must have a very fluid and exceptionally vivid imagination to come up with Mind MGMT. It explores a lot of things ranging from clairvoyance, telekinesis, espionage, action, adventure, and mystery, but it’s done so well. At the core of this fantastic story is the complex and elaborate riddles the author has presented about Mind MGMT, the premier psychic espionage organization, gradually unfolding its mysteries as the narrative moves forward. Mind MGMT presents a somewhat ghastly vision of a world where people with extraordinary and superhuman abilities walk among us, exposing us to a myriad of supernatural occurrences and mind abilities. Here’s a story that utilizes familiar themes in science fiction but has cleverly inverted them into an original and unconventional story. The result is an engrossing and compelling read that does not fail to draw you in, encouraging you to ask questions and seek answers.
The story builds superbly. At first the story seems discordant, presenting us with a narrative that doesn’t seem to add up. When we eventually discover what the story is all about, another mix of twists and turns are revealed, making us wonder where the story will lead to next. Matt Kindt has allowed this story to slowly evolve into something hypertrophied, but thrilling all the same. The facts are never completely exposed, cloaked and hidden, awaiting to be released in perfect time. While paranormal activities abound, it is surprisingly convincing. The realm of science and fantasy has been unified so strikingly that it becomes a little unnerving- brilliantly, at that.
It’s not only the story that can be deemed unconventional in comic book standards. The art work, for example, shows how Matt Kindt applied his intense creativity. A typical comic book usually presents solid, bright colors whereas Mind MGMT uses the ethereal effects of watercolor. It perfectly reflects the ambiguities and the mysteries underlying the story. I have not read a lot of comic books but this was a completely different thing for me. I think it’s safe to say that this book appeals not only to the intellect but also to the sense of sight. When I first looked at the cover, it seemed an ordinary illustration of a woman with an exposed brain, but once you get to see it in close up, you will see that the ‘brain’ is made up of people inflicting harm to one another. As with the covers that follow, these illustrations demand a second look as it has hidden visual messages.
The same riddles and complexities latch onto an array of beguiling characters we meet in the story. It occurred to me that even Meru, the true crime writer protagonist, is someone I will not fully know or understand. Somehow, I felt she has a deep connection with Henry Lyme and thus the organization itself. I am guessing all the missing links will be explained in the succeeding volumes. It’s clear from the start that Meru’s goal is not only to find Henry Lyme but to dissect the Mind MGMT organization. But why? Most importantly, how?
The most disturbing and probably the most interesting characters are the Mind MGMT agents who possess extraordinary and superhuman abilities. They can alter or manipulate reality just by their thoughts. These individuals can inflict harm and kill someone as easily as they can think of what they want for lunch. I honestly don’t know if they are all good but they seem to be. Then again, I have not made sense of a lot of things while reading the book so I guess I’ll have to read the next volume to find out. I’m wondering how all of these characters will tie together and show up as the story moves along. It’s been a great ride so far, knowing them one by one, how they are trained, who the most powerful is, what their powers are… I’m curious as to how these agents will affect Meru personally. Surely there’s something here that hasn’t been clearly stated and there will be more to discover in the next volume.
Mind MGMT is a staggering piece of work. It is evident that Mind MGMT is one-of-a-kind book that will appeal to fans of the mystery and adventure genres. If you count yourself as one, then pick this up and revel in all its complexities. If you are a fan of the X-Files TV series, then you won’t be disappointed. It was a great, intense, and fast-paced read that had me wanting more. I’m looking forward to reading the next volume.