If the previous volume was The One Where Everything Goes Wrong, then this is The One Where Things Start Turning Around. After nearly losing everything to Julianne -- The Eraser, Meru is only able to make it out of Hong Kong thanks to some posthumous help from Dusty and his music. Making her way to the rendezvous point by the Ganges river in India, she finds out that her next step is to track down the First Immortal to receive the additional training she needs to stop The Eraser. That she meets the First Immortal shouldn’t surprise anyone. Unless you’re wondering about whether or not his training will actually help Meru triumph over her nemesis. That part of the narrative is a lot dicier for our protagonist.
The story follows a pretty conventional path that will be familiar to anyone with knowledge of the conventions of this kind of story. While you can put “Eye of the Tiger” on loop while reading this, creator Matt Kindt won’t oblige you with any kind of training montage here. He does break out some impressive stylistic tricks, as always. They range from the simple “avalanche” effect that introduces Dusty’s Disciples, to the branching off of the “side page” text into the story itself, and the multifaceted psychic battle between Meru and Julianne. Also, I’m pretty sure that only someone whose mind works in the ways that Kindt’s does would even begin to conceive of finally giving us The Eraser’s full story in the form of a cheesy sci-fi novel.
There are also the fun little details, like how the First Immortal likes to get high on his own very personal supply of mushrooms, that add color to the story. In addition, the First Immortal’s extended flashback to the origins of Mind MGMT is also quite illuminating, showing us how the organization’s techniques were developed and how they eventually began to go wrong. Then you’ve got the bit with the politician, Idris, and his machinations as one of The Eraser’s agents. It may seem like Kindt is setting up a lot of disparate threads, but he manages to pull them together in satisfying fashion by the end of the volume. When you get there, you’ll definitely feel ready for the upcoming series finale in vol. 6