Story: Magdalene Visaggio
Art: Nick Robles
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
What They Say:
Paranormal expert Doctor Shan Fong Mirage was born with the ability to see and speak to the dead—an ability that has mysteriously stopped working. Have her powers failed or is something far more sinister at work? Will she figure out her fate and the fate of the one she loves the most? Valiant’s gripping supernatural mystery starts here!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since the last Doctor Mirage series and that makes me kind of sad. I don’t get to follow Valiant as much as I like but this is a character that I’ve always enjoyed. This makes me glad to see a new run on it come out from Magdalen Visaggio on the writing and Nick Robles on the artwork. Visaggio puts everything in place well here for the start where you’re questioning what’s real and what isn’t all while catching us up easily enough, which makes it accessible. This is my first time seeing Nick Robles’ artwork and it’s definitely well suited to the series with lots of great angles and panel design, all of which is beautifully accented by Jordie Bellaire’s always stellar color design.
The premise is straightforward enough at the start here. Shan had made a good life with her husband where they were “halfways famous” for a while as paranormal investigators for a TV show. They were deeply in love, connected to each other, and they had a good mix of abilities with magic and being able to see the dead that made them authentic with audiences. But Hwen’s death and her prior journey to try and find him resulted in a situation where the land of the dead is now inaccessible to Shan and she’s not even sure if that land still exists anymore. For Shan, this is beyond huge because she’s always seen the dead, always been surrounded by them. To be truly alone like this on top of losing Hwen twice since he had died previously, well, she’s not in a great place. And spending time looking for magic that will let her reconnect the divide is going well either.
Which is evidenced by her latest trick that has blown the roof off her home. The timing is doubly amusing as not long after that we see a young woman named Grace arrive that’s looking for her in order to help her properly see the world. Grace, coming in at a worldly sixteen-years-old, is confounding to Shan since she has so many things set up to hide her home. Though maybe not a roof blowing off. But Grace’s arrival is thanks to Hwen contacting her and guiding her here and we start to see the threads of the bigger picture. I’m unsure of how much to trust Grace at the moment but the idea that she and Shan are still basically dead and that they’re not seeing the real world as it fits with this property pretty well. It’s filled with uncertainty about how much to trust her story, though she provides just enough of a taste to get Shan on board for finding out more since it brought her Hwen for the briefest of moments. There’s some trickery ahead and I’m eager to see where it’ll go.
Doctor Mirage is a character that I’ve enjoyed a lot of stories from over the years in different forms which means I’m glad that there’s another. Visaggio does a great job of making the book accessible but still part of the larger tapestry of the character, allowing you to feel like you’re in something with some history quickly and filling you in on the key parts naturally. The setup is solid here for what’s to come with the story and that makes for an easy hook. Nick Robles is a great addition to the line of artists working on this character and with Jordie Bellaire’s colors, Robles artwork is going to look even better. I love the various magical elements we get here but I also love all the detail of just how bad off Shan’s home is here and what Robles put into the backgrounds to really make it come to life. Definitely a great starting point all around.
Age Rating: 12+
Released By: Valiant Entertainment
Release Date: August 28th, 2019