Written by: Jen Van Meter
Art by: Roberto De La Torre
This issue of The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage begins with a flashback to how Shan Fong-Mirage lost her husband, Li Hwen. In a world in which interacting with the dead isn’t exactly commonplace, but it does happen, one would think that this wouldn’t be quite as big a deal as it is in reality. Despite her ability to commune with ghosts, however, Doctor Mirage cannot find a way to contact her dead love. After this flashback, we pick up where the previous issue left off, with Doctor Mirage attempting to find her way out of the spirit world, as forces in the world of the living are moving to attack her corporeal self.
The comic world is not short on protagonists that are adept at communicating with the dead, or even moving back and forth between the worlds of the living and the dead. Books like Constantine, Ghosted, and others all do their own thing with these tropes. Doctor Mirage is bringing a lot to the table that keeps it from being an also ran. Mirage’s sadness over the loss of her husband has been a theme in the previous two issues, but, with this issue, Jen Van Meter is beginning to explore the emotional power of this loss. The previous issues have been enjoyable, but with these developments, the series has stepped up its game. Often, in books like this (and in comics, in general), the themes surrounding death end up losing their emotional impact. But here, Van Meter is exploring the idea of true loss even amidst the context of a story in which the supernatural is fact. While an exploration of this type of loss can often overpower any sense of a narrative, that’s not the case here. Van Meter is managing to forge an intriguing narrative, one in which Mirage’s loss is integral. Mirage’s battle through the world of the dead in this issue feels like it holds the potential to have emotional as well as physical consequences for our protagonist.
Roberto De La Torre’s lines are sketchy and rough in a way that works perfectly for the book. The various denizens of the spirit world are all given their own visual flair-as is the world itself-and the world of the living is differentiated enough-with a style that De La Torre gives a more solid feel to-to make scene changes clear and meaningful but not jarring. Colorist David Baron doesn’t go overboard complicating his work here, using a dual tone gradient effect in most places that works seamlessly with De La Torre’s lines to craft the two worlds here.
The creative team behind The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage continues to craft a narrative here that holds emotional weight that’s rare for stories of this kind. The fact that they’re also embedding their worlds with intrigue and suspense seems like icing on the cake.