Review - Doctor Mirage #1 (@ValiantComics)

"Where's Li Hwen Mirage?"

As far as marketable abilities go, being able to talk to ghosts is one that doesn't really merit a lot of attention. That's not the case in Doctor Mirage #1 from Valiant Comics though. The issue is written by Magdalene Visaggio, illustrated by Nick Robles, colored by Jordie Bellaire and lettered by Dave Sharpe.

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!

There's an intense loneliness that pervades the issue as Visaggio follows Doctor Shan Fong Mirage, who's struggling to reconcile her current lot in life with ghosts of her past. Despite the solitude, Visaggio still manages to work in a robust plot that slowly and steadily builds itself to an intriguing crescendo. Visaggio achieves through some very clever pacing, as the reader is given drips of information that add up to fill out a complete picture of where the series is going. The issue is also presented in something of a documentary style with Visaggio adding in stage direction narrative bubbles that add a sense of metarealism to Shan's actions. And despite much of the issue featuring Shan speaking to herself, Visaggio doesn't let that stop her from offering plenty of dialogue that feels appropriate.

Robles' art style feels somewhat distant and befitting of the main character's current plight. The linework is simple and elegant, with Robles focusing more on the broad strokes of the characters and settings as opposed to getting into the minutia of intricate detail. That doesn't prevent Robles from infusing the characters with emotion, as Shan in particular always seems to have a distant, forlorn expression on her face that ties into the overarching character personality. There's a healthy assortment of panels throughout the issue that keep the reader on their toes, but there are a few pages that are fascinating in that they pretty much break the constraints of panels to be more provocative. Bellaire's colors remain muted for most of the issue, allowing the aforementioned fluid pages to burst to life with bright, vibrant colors.

Doctor Mirage #1 is a pretty trippy start to the new series about the character who can talk to ghosts. Shan is struggling with recent events and revelations, but the combination of the two likely isn't enough to stop her from doing what she does best. Visaggio has a great grasp of the character, writing her with a sense of stoicism and sadness that gives the book more emotional weight. Robles' artwork is a good representation of the emotions Shan is going through, effortlessly capturing the lows and highs of her emotional roller coaster. Doctor Mirage #1 works to redefine the character while nodding to what it is that makes the character great in the first place.

Doctor Mirage #1 is available now.