Doctor Mirage #1
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Nick Robles
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Available: August 28
We’re a little late to the table on this one, but I wanted to give a quick shout out to Valiant Entertainment and one of their latest limited-run (5 issues) releases: Doctor Mirage. It’s an attractively-produced supernatural mystery which asks: how do you solve the case of your own death—when you don’t even know that you’re dead?
Shan Fong Mirage, paranormal investigator and former reality TV star, has had a rough go of it of late. Used to being among others—her ability to see and interact with the dead manifested at age 4 and only grew as she advanced into adulthood—her skills left her at the same time as her husband, soulmate magician Li Hwen Mirage, died under mysterious circumstances. Shortly thereafter, her show-runners decided her program was missing a “certain something,” and cut her loose. Life, so full of…well, people, live ones or not, has become humdrum. Quiet. Lonely.
Until today, that is. Today, Shan reclaims her life. With the use of a mystical scroll, Doctor Mirage casts an ancient incantation designed to restore her access to the “Deadside” and, more importantly, her husband.
‘Cept it doesn’t work. Instead, the spell does a nice job of reworking the structural integrity of her home, and knocks an even-more-forlorn Shan senseless. Enter: Grace Lugo, teenage medium, cursed with exactly the skills Shan is so desperately trying to restore. Via Grace’s vision (enhanced by her “medication,” Anabasis), the Doc is able to visit the Deadside, and even a brief interaction with her deceased husband, Hwen.
Oh, and she finds out that her problem isn’t that her powers aren’t working. Her problem is that she’s dead.
And in hell.
Some days, it just really doesn’t pay to get out of bed.
Visaggio’s story is intriguing and engaging, and demands the reader to fill in some blanks (it is, after all, a mystery). Her characters—we meet two directly in this issue, though another is suggested—are likeable and interesting (especially Grace, who sparks some notes of Neil Gaiman’s Delirium), and her technique is fresh. Robles’ line work is excellent; he captures and enhances the story, characters and tone (his look is reminiscent to me of X-Men era John Byrne).
What really stands out in this issue, though, is something that comic readers typically and almost universally take for granted: the colors. Bellaire’s use of color throughout the issue is masterful, and fascinating—and every bit a part of the story-telling that the writing and penciling are. In the introductory scenes, taking place in Shan’s mind as she wakes herself up, the hues are vibrant and strong, blues and purples, which fade, as she rises, to subdued blues, browns and pinks. The scenes involving magic (there are two) feature psychedelic explosions of the full spectrum of color—blends and whorls and bursts I could frankly stare at all day. In the closing scenes, after Grace has invited Shan into her vision, some of that color remains, invading and changing Shan’s dulled existence and indicative of her real awakening.
A solid start to what looks to be an engaging tale, presented in a style reminiscent of old-school urban fantasy comics, Doctor Mirage #1 is available now, from Valiant Enterprises. Give this one a shot, and enjoy!
Review by Andy Patch, thePullbox.com