"The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Valiant Entertainment
Written by Jen Van Meter
Illustrated by Roberto de la Torre
2014, 24 Pages
Comic released on September 3rd, 2014
On the surface, speaking to the dead sounds really cool. You can provide closure to loved ones and help solve murders. For semi-retired paranormal investigator Dr. Mirage, it's a bit of a curse. The only spirit she can't seem to get a hold of is that of her deceased husband, Hwen. When she's hired by a mysterious occultist for a special job, she sees it as an opportunity to get her husband back from the underworld. Sounds easy, right? That's probably why this book is called The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage.
What stands out right away in this comic is the title character's sense of hopelessness. She's lost without Hwen. She's going through the motions of the jobs she chooses to take (or those that are thrust upon her by her manager), providing some final words for the dearly departed to their friends and family that are still on this mortal coil. Her heart isn't in it though. The opening page contains some words from the bereaved such as, “I get angry at her for leaving me and then I feel ashamed,” or, “You know how they say your better half? I'm meaner, less...wise? Without him.” Mirage is standing just outside the room, but all of these words could be applied to her and what she's going through right now. I don't know the manner in which Hwen died or why Mirage can't find him. Hopefully that will come to light as the series continues.
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Instead of showing how Dr. Mirage got to be such a celebrity in the paranormal circles, the comic picks up with her already established. She's seen personal tragedy. Now she's trying to put the pieces of her life back together by any means necessary. She's not desperate though. She never comes across as crazy or needy. She's just trying to fill this hole in her life that was created when her husband died.
Roberto de la Torre provides a sense of intimacy with his artwork, as if you're seeing candid snapshots of Mirage's life. These come across almost like sketches. This works in some cases, but things can get a little hazy overall. The inking could have been a little tighter to make the pencils cleaner.
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Dr. Mirage looks a bit like a super hero with her strange outfit. She comments on it partway through the book, explaining that Hwen put protections on her “work clothes” to make it like armor. It looks a little strange when she's standing next to people in street clothes though. She looks like she's ready to battle robots in an anime instead of contacting ghosts.
This first issue of The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage gets all the pieces in order. The title character is provided with an opportunity to enter the underworld and seek out her lost husband, whom she hasn't been able to communicate with. For the first time since his death, Mirage has a feeling of hope. Maybe she can finally get some closure for herself instead of everyone else that she comes into contact with.