I'm going to admit that I have no idea who or what Doctor Mirage was. I read a few summaries and it seems that the original series was a Husband/Wife duo that investigated paranormal cases very much like Ed and Lorraine Warren; with a very obvious and almost comedic, superhero twist. Jen Van Meter, Roberto de la Torre and David Baron have created an extremely intriguing new arc with a brand new Doctor Mirage, which will be fine for new readers, but fans of the old series will be longing for past times.
Jen Van Meter is a rather seasoned writer in the comic world, having written for Oni, Marvel and DC. She takes a stab at Doctor Mirage and provides an exceptional back-story but it sacrifices the pacing a bit. We are introduced to Shan Fong, this iteration's Doctor Mirage, at a support group for widows and it sets the tone for what's to come. Shan Fong has the ability to talk to spirits but one spirit eludes her...her late husband, Hwen. Meter takes a more noir-like approach to this series which is only further complemented by the art of Roberto de la Torre and the colors of David Baron.
With heavy shadows and dim, matte colors the horror-pulp tone is strong with this one. A lot of panels in here display some fantastic details. The basement/dungeon thing that Linton March (not to be confused with Batman's Lincoln March) brings Shan into is covered in occult decorations and the decrepit nature of it is in full display. The only issue with the heavy shadows is that it tends to keep the facial expressions at a minimum but in the close ups, Torre does a stellar job of conveying all kinds of emotions.
I'm a big fan of noir especially with a paranormal/horror twist. With that said however, I feel like we may be hitting an over-saturation point. We have The Empty Man, Drumhellar, Constantine, and Ten Grand. What I am getting at is that it's hard to really differentiate the titles when the premise, when boiled down, can be applied to multiple series. But Doctor Mirage does actually provide some noticeable differences. The creative team makes the title feel modern with their use of technology, Shan Fong is written as a very modern-day woman, and the art elevates a lot of the exposition.
I'm not so sure I'm fully hooked yet. The first issue was a strong debut but it was a lot of setup and exposition; but it was entertaining. The dialogue felt as natural as you could expect in a paranormal story and nothing really felt out of place. The ending page was a bit too reminiscent of Constantine (the movie). There are some compelling elements here, from the looks of it the creative team can pull it off, but we will have to see if they deliver with issue #2.
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About the Author - Bryant Thomas
Bryant Thomas is far too over attached to his dog, Dexter. He talks to him. Confesses to him. But most of all, he reads comics to him. When Bryant isn't working for the energy industry, helping companies figure out what to buy to make them profitable, he reaches for a new trade or drools over all of the insane JH Williams art in Batwoman's early issues. Growing up in Texas has given Bryant a very complex palate to BBQ Sauces, ranch dressing, and the occasional whiskey. His free-time is filled with panels and panels, and even more panels as he writes reviews for the wonderful institution that is, The Outhouse.
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