Rating: 4.5/5 – Spell-Binding Series Mixes the Mysteries of the Afterlife With Unending Love.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Amy Okamoto.
The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage Volume 1 trade paperback collects the full five issues of the miniseries. Written by Jen Van Meter and beautifully illustrated by Roberto De La Torre, this haunting tale of love and the paranormal gives us not one but two new heroes, both aptly named Doctor Mirage.
The series focus is on Shan Mirage, a paranormal investigator who can speak to the dead. Widowed during a battle with a water demon, Shan has spent several years in search of her husband’s spirit, unable to find him or gain closure. Financial struggles force Shan to take on a paranormal project for a questionable client with ulterior motives. On the cusp of rejecting the job, she does an about-face when an enslaved being from the other plane offers her the location of her husband Hwen in the spirit plane. Shan then delves into the world of the dead, crossing over in spirit to find and release Hwen. From this point on, Shan is forced to battle on two fronts – in the land of the living against an occult group, and in the underworld, as she finds her way to Hwen. Their reunion is bittersweet as they must separate again to save the veil between worlds from crashing down. The greatest sacrifice of all is made – sacrificing their love for the safety of the world. All is not lost however.
Van Meter does an excellent job of character building, especially with the Mirages. Their deep bond and love for one another, shown through a series of flashbacks interwoven with the present adventure, serve as both an impetus for Shan’s risks and a means of character development. Van Meter shines here as she shows rather than tells us that this couple is in love. This is accomplished by allowing us to witness love blooming, casual moments of openness and banter, and the intensity of their union. She cleverly incorporates this into the telling of the story in such a way that the “flashbacks” aren’t flashbacks.
Shan Mirage appeared a limited number of times in the Shadowman series, but her character was not fully explored until now. Van Meter’s Shan comes across as a real woman, intelligent and emotional with quirks and insecurities — a refreshing change from the medium’s popular portrayal of female heroes. There’s also a sense of mystery as we explore the realms of the underworld and try to decipher their customs and meanings. The story itself is complex, but the heart of it is the simple human emotions of the heroes and villains.
Artist Roberto De La Torre and colorist David Baron have created a beautiful book with haunting imagery and poignant use of color. At times gritty and frightening and at others beautiful, their depictions make the story come to life. Death truly was just the beginning for this enchanting series. The next adventure for the Doctor(s) Mirage will start soon in The Second Life of Doctor Mirage.
Reviewed by: Amy Okamoto
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