Issue 1 of the new series from Valiant presents an interesting mystery with many interesting twists and turns along the way in this solid first issue from Jen Van Meter and Roberto De La Torre.
The premise for this book is interesting with the solicits describing it as; “World-renowned parapsychologist Dr. Mirage and her husband Hwen were madly, deeply, stuff-of-legends in love – until the day a tragic accident stole Hwen away. Now, Dr, Mirage will have to use every ounce of her training and talents in the mystic arts to do the one thing Hwen taught her never to do – journey across the realms of Deadside and bring her love back to the land of the living.”
This is exactly what we get in this first issue which gives a great introduction to the character of Dr Mirage, however, this where a problem with the book shows, Dr Mirage from the impression you get in this first issue just is not that likeable. You understand that she has been through some very traumatic experiences in her life and the scene where she is introduced through Van Meter’s great talent as a writer the pain she is experiencing at interacting with the deceased loved ones of a group of lost individuals. She however, comes across as very cold, almost confrontational and whilst it works and is how the character would react I seemed to follow the events around the character for than themselves, hopefully in further issues you get to see more sides of Dr Mirage that allows you to warm to her. The mystery that is set up throughout this issue though is intriguing, you are not sure who is playing who in this situation and the second issue begs to be bought just to see where the set up in this occult detective story goes.
De La Torre’s art has what I thought was a very Alex Maleev like quality to it. A more sketchy style that evokes the occult undertones that permeates throughout the issue. The colours are very muted in places but, bright and vibrant when they need to be. Visually my favourite part of this book is again the opening scene when communing with the dead, the choice is taken to leave the dead relatives as white inked figures, and it really stands out especially the expressions on the characters faces. You can tell the departed love their significant others even before and words are spoken in those panels, its utterly breath-taking.
The plus edition of this book also ships with the Case Files of Dr Mirage and this serves as a great introduction to Kevin March the man whom Dr Mirage is hired in the second half of the main issue. As this side story is set in the 50’s the art style leans towards that era of comics and it looks fantastic. Everything from the narration to coloring is there and just shouts silver age comics at the top of its lungs.
The story shows a part of March’s early life as the Black Mask of Justice in true cold war fashion taking on the Soviets in a race for a stone that will allow the bearer to rule the world. Combined with the main issue of this book it gives us an introduction to March’s character and why he acts the way he does in this opening issue playing the fool to Dr Mirage whilst asking for her help. It shows him in his prime as a hunter of the occult to safe guard America and ensures that none of these occult artefacts fall into commie hands. As he is an old school spy he will keep his cards close to his chest and will not reveal the whole truth to our main character as alluded to in the main issue, he knows more about magic than he is letting on and this is displayed wonderfully in this short story showing just how powerful he is, which then raises questions as to why he needs Mirage’s help at all.
Dr Mirage is a great first issue, minor gripes about the characterization aside it does everything anyone could want in a first issue. The case files included allow for extra world building that whilst not necessary, gives the reader a great feel what is sure to be another major player in this book. Overall it gives us a great introduction to the main character, sets the tone for the book really well and provides an interesting mystery that will have you wondering just what will happen next.
By Matt Deery
Follow me on Twitter: @