Another rerun for you this week of a series that I enjoyed just as much when I reread it this week.
This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: The Death Defying Doctor Mirage
Doctor Mirage real name Hwen Mirage, first appeared in Shadowman #16 during Valiant’s first run at publishing comics, eventually getting an eighteen issue series in the form of The Second Life Of Doctor Mirage that ran from 1993-1995. The character was a parapsychologist along with his wife Carmen Ruiz who ran afoul of Master Darque a few times. After the relaunch in 2012, Doctor Mirage reappeared, quite fittingly, in Shadowman #5 as Shan Fong, a scientist and paranormal investigator searching for the spirit of her deceased husband Hwen.
All of that is more than I knew going into The Death Defying Doctor Mirage, a trade that I got in a buy one get one deal at my LCS (the one I intended to buy was Bloodshot Reborn: Colorado). I was on the fence with this one as I had tried reading an issue of The Death Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives but struggled to get into the story (probably because it was the second issue of the sequel story, if I had to make a guess). With a TV series recently commissioned, I figured I’d best give the series another shot.
So what’s the story about?
Doctor Mirage talks to the dead… but the only spirit Shan Fong can’t find is that of her late husband, Hwen. Instead, America’s favorite semi-retired paranormal investigator is haunted and raw, using her gift to solve homicides and bring peace to the recently bereaved. But when a big-time occultist with a classified military past hires her for a special job, Shan discovers a lead that might close the greatest mystery she’s ever tackled – how to get Hwen back! Now, Doctor Mirage must enter the undiscovered country and cross all the realms of the underworld if she has any hope of rescuing the man she loves…or be forever lost beyond the earthly plane.
I was hesitant when going into this book, but I needn’t have been. The Death Defying Doctor Mirage is perfectly suited to new readers, whether you’re familiar with Valiant or not, and for those of you who enjoy reading a complete story in one go, you’ll be super happy with this. Although there is room for a sequel, there isn’t one of those obnoxious cliff hanger endings that drive you bonkers in a miniseries.
No, what you get with The Death Defying Doctor Mirage is a really engaging story with a lot of supernatural elements that shouldn’t deter you if that isn’t your cup of tea because they end up allowing Roberto De La Torre and David Baron the opportunity to run absolutely wild with some fantastical colours and environs to bring Jan Van Meter‘s story to life. Shan Fong is a brilliant character, and the glimpses I had seen of her in other issues as she made cameo appearances didn’t prepare me for how much I enjoyed her snark, her heart and an innate sense of Indiana Jones style of gambling and reckless sense of abandon that brings the story together into a crazy mix of the supernatural adventures, a gentle horror element all set against the underlying love story between Hwen and Shan.
I really enjoyed this book – far more than I expected to. So why is it today’s subject? Because I hear very few people talk about Doctor Mirage with the enthusiasm the character deserves – that’s why the book is Underrated.
Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.