For all of the fantastic stylistic tricks and uses of the form that creator Matt Kindt employs with this volume, its content can be summed up rather succinctly. That said, this is the volume where everything goes wrong for our protagonists. Now working with Harry Lyme and his crew again, as well as calling the shots for them, Meru continues their work in recruiting former agents of Mind MGMT. Though Meru’s ability to turn off the abilities of any of these agents is a useful tool to have, she has no real control of it herself. This is seen when her crew attends a show by the title character and the temporary loss of the Magician’s abilities effectively shatters the fragile life she had built for herself. Naturally, this sends the Magician straight into the arms of the Eraser and her group and things spiral off into death and destruction for Meru and everyone associated with her from there.
Given how bad things get for our protagonists, this volume reminded me nothing so much as the most recent volume of “Ooku” except that you can’t really separate everyone into heroes and villains here. Keeping this volume from being a depressing slog is Kind’s constant experiments with the style and form of the comic medium. They can be as simple as the dual-column “torn page” visual and narrative structure of the Magician’s and Meru’s stories from the first issue, or the blossom-to-wilt panel structure of Meru and Bill’s memories when they find each other again. Kindt also keeps the usual “text on the side of the page” element here, but does a better job of tying it to the story at hand. All of this experimenting does make the volume a difficult read at times, which at this point shouldn’t be that much of an issue for people who have been following the series up to this point. The important thing is that the story being told here makes sense on its own and didn’t leave me with the feeling that I had to go back and re-read the first three volumes to understand it. I’m sure even more of “Mind MGMT’s” secrets would have been revealed if I had, yet it’s nice to not feel obligated to do that in order to enjoy this one.