It’s unbelievable the way the internet (especially social media) has made free choice little more than an illusion. Algorithms, data mining, and other techniques have transformed apps and social media corporations into the new leaders of society. It seems like each day, fewer individuals take their own decisions. In the beginning, the internet seemed like the perfect tool to create more informed and independent individuals, but it seems the only thing we have become sheep in the herd. Fortunately, while it seems like apps and social media have developed some kind of mind control, we are not there yet…but what if we were?
Mindset by writer Zack Kaplan, artist John J. Pearson, and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou is the story of a group of Stanford computer geeks that discover mind control and decide to implement it into a meditation app that helps people break away from all the bath habits that social media and technology bring with them. But when the app becomes highly successful (and especially extremely profitable,) they have to ask themselves, are they really helping people or controlling them?
The first thing that caught my attention was Pearson’s fantastic art and layouts. The colors used and the way panels are arranged really gets you into the futuristic and psychedelic atmosphere the book is going for. The art is messy in the best possible way. Messy enough to get you into the mind and situation of the protagonist. There is a page, in particular, with tons of colors and a crazy layout that got me staring for a long time. In addition, Pearson’s art combines extremely well with Ostmane-Elhou’s stylized lettering; his unique word balloons really help set the mood of the book and make it stand out. Just as with Pearson’s art, Ostmane-Elhou’s lettering is messy in the best way possible.
Another great thing about this debut issue is its protagonist, Ben Sharp, and how his point of view gives the narrative motion. Ben is deep inside the world of silicon valley and is the son of some really demanding parents that are always trying to keep appearances. His situation is the perfect one to explore the themes the book is talking about. The way Kaplan writes Ben gives us enough insight into the world we are journeying into, in addition to making our entry point into this story a character who is easy to empathize with and interesting enough to stick around with.
When I first heard about Mindset, it caught my attention, but I didn’t give it much thought, thinking it could turn into just another cliche technology is a bad story, but this first issue showed me just how wrong I was. Mindset is worth the read and has the potential to become one of the most thought-provoking and interesting comics of the year. With interesting characters, a great plot, amazing art, fantastic lettering, and fascinating themes, Mindset will make you ask yourself: am I controlling technology, or is it controlling me?