"The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage #5" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Valiant Entertainment
Written by Jen Van Meter
Illustrated by Roberto De La Torre
2014, 32 Pages
Comic released on January 14th, 2014
Shan Fong-Mirage has literally been through Hell and back. She's dealt with Nazi occultists, all manner of demons, and at long last, has reunited with the spirit of her deceased husband, Hwen. Now she faces a bigger challenge. The barrier separating our world from the next is falling apart and she's the only one that can stop it falling down entirely, unleashing a horde of demons. This comes at a cost. Even though she has only just found Hwen again, she can't take him through to the land of the living.
The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage has been a roller coaster ride for Shan. She has the ability to talk to spirits, but she could never speak to the one that mattered most to her. Now that she has finally been in contact with Hwen once more, she's forced to sacrifice that connection in order to save the entire world. Doesn't that just suck? It's an emotional goodbye that instantly leads to a huge battle on two different planes of existence. Shan jumps back to our world to fight the occultists trying to open the gate while Hwen dukes it out with the demon Ivros and his army.
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What's most interesting is how each of them uses different tactics in the battles. Hwen is stabbing people left and right, but Shan is thinking things through. She can't overpower the four men in the room with her. Instead, she uses her smarts and the spirits that came through with her. It really helps cement Shan as the new Doctor Mirage in this updated version of the Valiant Universe. She accepts her new role and really comes into her own in this issue, finding the closure that has eluded her for so long.
Roberto De La Torre's artwork is a little rough. His pencils are very loose and lacking fine detail. This can work well in some areas, especially those in shadow, but falls flat in the fight scenes. There is one near perfect panel towards the end of the issue, where Hwen and Shan are facing one another through the portal. They're so close yet so far away from each other. It's like they get one last glimpse before being pulled away.
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The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage explores a spiritual and supernatural side of the Valiant Universe. More importantly, it is an introduction to a new version of this character that was established twenty years ago. Writer Jen Van Meter brought in Shan in a very organic way while still paying homage to Hwen, the original Doctor Mirage. It isn't a sudden change, like some of the stuff that came through with DC's New 52. It is a logical progression of the character and really makes you identify with Shan instead of just her being thrown into an adventure where she has to talk to ghosts. This book takes her on a journey that nearly breaks her, but she comes out the other end more in tune with her abilities and what she's capable of than ever before.