Review - The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives #1 (@ValiantComics)

"That's great, Hwen. But no more evil spells today. We've got evil to thwart."

At this point in time, there's no second lives. Sure, down the road medical advancements will either prolong life or make us immortal, but as it stands right now there's really no way to bring someone back from the dead. Fortunately for some, The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives #1 from Valiant Comics prides itself on thinking outside the box. The issue is written by Jen Van Meter, illustrated by Roberto de la Torre, colored by David Baron and lettered by Dave Lanphear.

Occult investigators Shan and Hwen Mirage lived their lives in the thrall of an epic love that few will ever have...until Hwen died tragically before his time. Now, after a perilous trip through the underworld, Shan and Hwen have been reunited...but Hwen is still an intangible spirit of the dead - incapable of opening a spellbook or even touching his wife. Their options exhausted, the death-defying Doctors Mirage are about to enact a dangerous spell to restore Hwen's solid form...and grant his ghost a second life. But, in the wrong hands, their ancient rite will become a tool of terror - and unleash a force of pure, homicidal evil that lusts for the murder of the living and the dead alike...a torturous death that obliterates not just everything a person ever had in this world, but everything their ghost will be in the next!

Valiant is pretty big on offering somewhat self-contained miniseries and The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives #1, as it's just as accessible to those who read the first volume as those who didn't read it. Van Meter picks right up where she left off, providing a glimpse at the lengths a character like Shan will go to in order to bring back the one she loves. There's plenty of context included for the characters that sets the stage effectively, giving the reader the relevant information to understand the rawness of her love for Hwen. She's got a plan to bring him back and Van Meter peppers components of that plan throughout the character building, where neither side feels too overwhelming. The ending of the issue proves that even the best-laid plans can go to waste, as a thread is left hanging that will require Shan's talents in future issues.

The artwork for The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives #1 is pretty astounding. There's a way that de la Torre illustrates the corporeal and ethereal worlds that feels uniform, where you could easily believe that ghosts walk among and interact with us. Despite this, de la Torre still manages to make the ghosts stand out enough where you can easily recognize a character who's no longer of this world. Baron adds to the effect by illustrating the ghosts with pale hues that make them feel supernatural. The use of the standard panel layouts add something of a claustrophobic feel to the work, as if de la Torre is making silent assurances to the reader that the ghosts won't escape Shan's talents.

The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives #1 is a pretty strong first issue. It's a book that's all about loss and coping with the aftermath, only in Shan's case, there's the chance that she can get her love back. Van Meter keeps the momentum from the first volume going strong, offering a rather compelling tale replete with heartache and remorse. The illustrations by de la Torre excel at their mission of creating a moody, paranormal atmosphere. The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives #1 will definitely appeal to fans of the first volume, but new readers will also want to give the issue a go.

The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives #1 is in stores now.