The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage #1 (of 5)

8 Overall Score
Art: 8/10
Dialogue: 8/10
Story: 8/10

Intriguing story | Great characters | Provocative subject matter | Great artwork | Expert pacing | Well-written dialogue

The absence of a prefaced synopsis does this book an undue and unnecessary disservice; it's unrealistic for the publisher to expect readers to a) be well-versed in the story/character's history, and b) take the initiative to look up said information themselves because nothing was conveniently provided for them.

The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage #1 (of 5)
Jen Van Meter, Roberto de la Torre
Valiant Comics
2014

When you think “love story,” it’s unlikely the first images produced by your mind involve the lingering dead, macabre artifacts, Nazi wizardry and imprisoned otherworldly creatures, however those are precisely the elements intrinsic to the plot of The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage, a reimagining of the classic ‘90s comic which told the tale of Dr. Hwen Mirage, his wife Carmen Ruiz, Master Darque, Solar: Man of the Atom and a colorful cast of supporting characters.

In this incarnation, the titular character is a Asian mystic empath named Dr. Shen Fong, whose ability to speak with spirits has provided her with a thus-far not-so-lucrative career. More than anything, she yearns to be reconnected with her deceased husband, Hwen (his name a nod to the original character), who she has been unable to find despite her unique talents.

The book opens with Shen in dire need of income, taking a job as a medium for suburbanites wishing to reconnect with their dead relatives. Though initially reluctant to engage the small group (she wasn’t aware of the nature of the job, set up by her friend and makeshift manager, Leo, until she had already gotten there), once she does so she interacts with them considerately and attentively.

When Leo comes to her not long afterwards with a new contract – one involving a famous but publicity-shy military contractor named Linton March – she jumps at the chance to sink her teeth into something more substantial. After casting a protective spell over her house, she sets off to meet the mysterious recluse.

A preliminary once-over of his property is all she needs to come to the conclusion that there far more going on than she had initially suspected and, moreover, certain elements suggest that, if she explores the correct avenues while working the case, she may be closer to locating her late husband than she has ever been before.

Penned by Eisner Award-nominated Jen Van Meter and illustrated by former Shadowman and Daredevil artist Roberto de la Torre, The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage is a terrifically put-together book. The characters, pacing, dialogue and intrinsic mystery are all expertly crafted.

The only drawback, truly, is the absence of any preface explaining what is going on to uninitiated readers.

Frankly, I don’t understand why some comic companies and/or creators are so reticent to do this. I’ve never had an issue with a comic I’ve read for a long time making sure that new readers are up to speed and, on the flipside when I’m a new reader completely unaware of what is going on, I really appreciate it when I’m given a synopsis of the story’s prior happenings (especially in cases where a publisher has overwritten an already-established narrative).

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Jesse Scheckner
Author: Jesse Scheckner View all posts by
A freelance writer who regularly produces work for MMA Owl, Tuff Gnarl, Broward Palm Beach New Times, Florida Geek Scene and Miami's Community Newspapers. Moderately relevant. Follow me on Twitter @JesseScheckner.

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