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Review: Doctor Mirage #1 Launches New Direction for Valiant's Hero

One of the most distinct and offbeat titles published by Valiant Entertainment is Doctor Mirage. A supernatural detective who can commune with the dead, the character is a fan-favorite departure from the action and superhero titles that populate much of Valiant's line.

With Madgalene Visaggio and Nick Robles at the helm, the character has received a relaunched ongoing series and it's clear from the opening that the new direction quickly establishes a status quo for the titular character that subverts expectations, while also serving as an accessible starting point for readers that may not be familiar with the title.

Usually surrounded by the voices of the dead due to her mystical connection to the afterlife and her dearly departed husband Hwen, Shan Fong's abilities as a paranormal medium have been mysteriously cut off. No longer living in the constant company of ghosts and other spectral companions, Shan attempts to adjust to her new dramatically quieter and solitary life when she is visited by a strange teenager with bombshell revelations about Shan's new standard of living.

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The prospect of a character suddenly plunged into solitude and completely cut off from communication from her dead husband may seem like a morose premise to kickstart the new volume of Doctor Mirage, but Visaggio does not dwell on traumatic raw emotions or make the opening issue overwhelmingly somber.

Shan is no stranger to bizarre, supernatural tropes and while she finds herself isolated, her characterization is not a departure. Rather, it reminds viewers that above all she is a survivor, especially given the circumstances. For a story about someone rebuilding their life, Visaggio avoids making the proceeding overly off-putting as Shan picks up the pieces.

In the wreckage of her old home, the story is not especially subtle about this but Visaggio's new character quickly calls this out for the readers with a bit of a knowing wink. And when the bombshell regarding the truth of Doctor Mirage's new status quo is revealed, Visaggio establishes a cool, new area for the character to explore while staying perfectly in line with previous depictions of the supernatural detective. And though the issue itself is light on action, the new mission statement for the title promises to bring a hell of a lot of fun.

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Nick Robles, with colorist Jordie Bellaire, creates a world that seems to focus on the emptiness the character finds herself in. There are a lot of panels that emphasize the sudden loneliness and overwhelming quiet of Doctor Mirage's life.

As such, the art team focuses more on conveying the emotion of Mirage and her newly introduced teenage companion to great effect, with Bellaire's use of color adding a surprising amount of vibrancy in what is usually a relatively darkly presented title, save for the odd blue ghost. By the issue's end, the art veers into swirling pop psychedelia as Mirage begins to learn the truth about her new condition.

Magdalene Visaggio and Nick Robles have created a great jumping on point for readers unfamiliar with Doctor Mirage while setting her on a bold, new path that completely falls within the traditional depictions of the character.

Methodically paced, the creative team avoids making the debut issue overly morose while quietly escalating the scope until it goes off like a party-popper in gorgeous hallucinatory visuals.

Valiant Entertainment's character is in good hands with this new creative team as it moves into unknown territory while promising a lot of fun in the relaunch's premise.

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