Writer Jen Van Meter remains a creator who I continually expect, hope, what have you will gain the mainstream recognition and success that she has deserved as far back as 2002’s Hopeless Savages. So it is a great deal of resentment mixed with bewilderment when I pose the question: “In a market hungry for more well-written characters and stories from a great writer who just happens to be female, why the hell are people not raving about Doctor Mirage from every Internet social media forum?”
This week saw the release of the second to last issue in the five-issue Valiant Entertainment limited series, Doctor Mirage #4. Right out of the gate, Van Meter and artist Roberto De La Torre, captured my attention with the adventure of paranormal investigator Shan Fong-Mirage, who has the ability to speak to any spirit in the world–except that of her husband and fellow investigator Hwen Mirage, who died four years prior to the events of this story.
While reminiscent of many of Mike Mignola’s paranormal stories over at Dark Horse, Van Meter has her own approach to this type of story-telling that is in no way derivative of the Hellboy universe. In fact, what sets this series apart for me is how Van Meter shows the hell it is (and has been since she was a child) to be able to hear and communicate with spirits.
Meeting up and falling in love with Hwen (as detailed in flashbacks) clearly brought Shen into an existence that made her happier (and well as making both investigators even better at their respective jobs). You instantly connect with why she remains bereaved even four years after his death.
In terms of the look of the series, were it not for Van Meter’s writing, I would heartily recommend it for the occult trappings and astral landscapes (as well as earthly scenes) that De La Torre and colorist David Baron deliver on each and every page. There is a richness to detail and tone that I have not seen the likes of since first stumbling upon Frazer Irving’s art.
I truly hope this is not the last Doctor Mirage limited series I get to read from this creative team. It cracks the top 10 of my favorite 2014 projects (spoiler alert on that front).
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