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Mindset 5 cover crop
Courtesy of Vault Comics

Comic Books

‘Mindset’ #5’s surprising twist changes everything


Let me just cut to the chase: the twist at the end of Mindset #5 alone makes this comic great. It completely changes all that has come before, turning everything on its head. I’m going to try and write this review without spoiling anything, but you should really go out, pick up Mindset #5 – along with all the previous issues, if you don’t have them already – and experience the rollercoaster ride yourself.  

I’ve got to hand it to writer Zack Kaplan and artist John J. Pearson for completely surprising me with this reveal. But, I’m so glad they did, because, to be quite honest, I was slightly disappointed with this issue until I got to the end. Don’t get me wrong, everything was still very good. But, it just seemed to be missing that something extra that had me praising every previous issue so highly. I admit; I’m straining at gnats, complaining about a comic only being great instead of fantastic. I wasn’t as disappointed on the second read-through; knowing the revelation that was coming had already changed how I saw the issue.

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Mindset #5
Courtesy of Vault Comics

That said, Pearson (with assists from Jimmy Savage) once again gives us some moments of artistic excellence. I really enjoyed the thematic symbolism on the one page in which every person except protagonist Ben Sharp and leading lady Hanna Atlanta are depicted as outlines holding a glowing rectangle representing their smartphone. We also feel the anger and chaos in a double-page spread of Ben’s conflict with top investor Peter Winfield. And the layout of the final page creates a visual representation of just how much the twist turns everything upside down.

It would also be a disservice to not praise Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s top-notch lettering. Once again, he perfectly places the narration boxes across the pages, sometimes leading us on a non-linear path, top to bottom and then back toward the top again. At least once, the dialogue – sans word balloon – is connected to the speaker with an arrow pointing at the character’s mouth, emphasizing the anger in his voice. And there is a lot of exposition in Mindset #5. But, Otsmane-Elhaou always places the numerous caption boxes in the right spot, never in the way, but rather becoming a part of the art.

Mindset #5
Courtesy of Vault Comics

The story follows the mystery set-up at the end of issue #4. Ben and Hanna set out to discover who’s controlling who. Who is actually the mastermind behind the Mindset app? Who has been mind-controlling everyone, including Ben and Hanna? And how long has it been going on?

Finally, in this penultimate issue, the story comes back to where everything started in issue #1. Remember, the narration started out as Ben’s monologue to police investigators, interrogating him about the murder of Peter Winfield. There are plenty of other flashbacks and call-backs to important scenes from all four previous issues. Pearson integrates these flashbacks into the story very well, normally just one panel, seen as Ben’s memory of these events, but given new meaning as they are connected to the revelations of the current moment.

Unfortunately, this issue lacks the deeper philosophical musings on the influence and control that technology and social media, among other things, have in our lives. We do see Ben at a low point, realizing how he’s become the thing he’s been trying to destroy. He hasn’t freed himself or anyone else from anything. He’s actually made it worse. But, this theme mostly takes a back seat to the plot-driven mystery.

And it’s an up and down rollercoaster as Ben and Hanna seek out the truth. As in any good mystery, it seems that every character could be the mastermind controlling everyone else.

Mindset #5
Courtesy of Vault Comics

Which leads to the big reveal at the end. It completely changes everything that’s happened before. I already wanted to re-read the entire series, but now it’s basically mandatory. At least the flashbacks spread throughout this issue let us know which scenes from previous issues we need to pay particular attention to.

Maybe I’m just too naïve, considering how thoroughly this twist blind-sided me. But, it definitely raised my excitement to another level, completely erasing my slight disappointment with the rest of the issue.

And now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I like this twist all the more. It fits so well into the deeper themes of control, influence and social media addiction at the heart of this series. Furthermore, it also fits into the general mind-blowing craziness of the rest of the series. So much so, that I could only agree with Ben’s one word response: “Huh.”

On the other hand, I’m not without my reservations. The big twist could be nothing more than a story-telling cheat. At the very least, Kaplan and Pearson employ plenty of misdirection if not downright baiting us readers. I’m sure some will argue that the revelation is too out of the blue and contrived. But, the strength of the series as a whole has me assured that this twist has all been part of Kaplan and Pearson’s plan.

How good this twist – and maybe the entire series – actually is will all come down to how Zach Kaplan, John J. Pearson, Jimmy Savage and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou wrap everything up in Mindset #6. So, once again, as with all the previous issues, I can’t wait for the next issue – the final issue – to arrive.

Mindset 5 cover crop
‘Mindset’ #5’s surprising twist changes everything
Mindset #5
The twist at the end of Mindset #5 alone makes this comic great. It completely changes all that has come before, turning everything on its head.
Reader Rating2 Votes
Surprising twist changes everything.
Captivating story with compelling mystery.
Art and lettering are great.
Not quite as great as the previous issue (until the twist).
Supporting characters aren’t explored in depth.

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