Mister Mammoth

Mister Mammoth
Mister Mammoth review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Dark Horse - 978-1-50673-317-3
  • Release date: 2022
  • English language release date: 2023
  • UPC: 9781506733173
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Crime, European, Mystery

When introduced, Mister Mammoth is praised as the world’s greatest detective, able to solve crimes that have baffled others. “Your record is perfect”, a prospective client notes in admiration, “There’s not a case you have taken that has not been solved”. Yet he’s selective about what he’ll take on, choosing only cases he believes will challenge his intellect, and is well aware that his off-putting appearance ensures he’s instantly judged, making communicating with people difficult. He’s approached by a wealthy pharmacist on the verge of retirement who may or may not be being pranked, but is receiving threatening communications. Mister Mammoth takes the case on for $5000 a day plus expenses, an outrageous fee in 1970, when events take place.

Foundation stones of Matt Kindt’s previous projects have been conspiracy and paranoia, and they’re duly injected early here. Is the client imagining things? Then again, Mister Mammoth could be imagining things as he follows the plodding patterns of the investigator. What is the purpose of extended chunks of the mystery drama Mister Mammoth watches? Kindt certainly puts a lot of effort into constructing his lead character, making him unique via his scarred appearance, and reinforcing his isolation by having him single-handedly building an impressive house on a hill, rock by backbreaking rock.

The detail Kindt applies is matched by artist Jean-Denis Pendanx in bringing several worlds to life, each differently designed, and packed with detail. Not so much detail, though, that the items intended to catch the eye in what’s after all a mystery can pass by entirely unobtrusively. For what’s eventually revealed there needs to be some subtlety, and Pendanx is well up to that, along with a masterly infusion of mood. The extras he delivers are also welcome, such as Park Güell-influenced design near the end. It’s beautiful, and the effort is appreciated.

Combining two volumes originally published in France, Mister Mammoth is described as an existentialist thriller, which for a long while seems to be a hollow buzzterm for the smart window dressing, but Kindt comes good in the end. The curtain is pulled back, the meanings and connections become clear and the existential floods through. It’s very clever. So clever, in fact, that it’s difficult to provide the revelations without coming across as slightly smug. Still, it’s been earned, and the coda is a nice finishing flourish.

It’s creepy, sinister, eccentric and compelling. The entertainment will be had.