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The Death Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives #1

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By Jen Van Meter, Roberto De La Torre, David Baron

Simply superb. Second Lives should be your first read on new comic book day.

The original Death Defying Doctor Mirage miniseries debuted in 2014 and was warmly received by fans. Second Lives is the follow-up four-part miniseries and features the same creative team that made the original series so captivating.

There is much to love about this book, and re-readings don’t dim its brilliance. When we last saw the Doctors Mirage, our heroine Shan had survived her encounter with a deadly occult group and managed to free her husband, Hwen, from his bonds in the afterlife. They sacrificed their newfound togetherness to save the world from demons, but the otherworldly being that they freed from captivity returns the favor by returning Hwen to this realm. The catch is that he’s still dead, and he is still a ghost, unable to touch or interact physically with our world.

This time out, things are different. Shan is rebuilding her home and her career, with Hwen by her side, albeit in ghostly form. We’re thrown head-first into a confrontation that the two of them handle together, each doing their own unique part. Seeing these two work together as a team is a real treat to readers who enjoyed the flashbacks of their camaraderie and their love story.

The duo is working on a project that they started before Hwen died. The project is more personal than ever and is key to their future. At this point, the story moves into adventure and mystery mode. The story is intriguing, and it feels like a much longer book than it is given the amount of depth.

The Death Defying Doctor Mirage is a bit different from other Valiant stories. It’s a personal tale rather than one that deals with earth-shattering events, although as we’ve witnessed, the Mirages’ actions often are to the betterment of the world. They are the heart of the story, not the events. While they exist in the larger Valiant Universe, by and large, their story is contained and independent.

The book is a pleasant mix of supernatural, horror, and mystery.  The occult facet leaves readers on unsure footing, not knowing what to expect. This gives a natural feeling of suspense and fear, which lends us our horror element. Van Meter never overplays her hand, so readers are taken along for the ride with Shan and Hwen, following clues and tackling issues on the fly. This book feels like it can and will take you anywhere in the world.

Artist Roberto De La Torre and colorist David Baron team up to bring the Mirages’ world to life. They’ve captured the mood and spirit of the story. Stylistically, De La Torre’s work has its own flair that lends an ethereal air to this ghost story. His work is textured, with line weights varying between thin and sharp to thick. The contrast in combination with the textures is striking, lending to the supernatural/edge of a nightmare feel. His characters are attractive yet retain a realistic and individualized character. Baron’s palette varies throughout the story based on setting and action. This helps to establish the emotion of the piece. His use of tones within scenes creates continuity and serves as a reminder as to the difference between the living and the lingering ghosts. The palette change pops when the adventure takes the protagonists to a new locale and builds excitement. De La Torre’s cityscapes in this instance are also well done, giving the reader a bit of wanderlust.

The Death Defying Doctor Mirage: Secret Lives #1 is a pleasure to read. Strong characters, an intriguing story, and unique art make this book a treat. Looking forward to the next issue.

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