By Jen Van Meter, Roberto De La Torre, David Baron
The Death Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives doesn’t feel like a comic. Substantial plot, well-defined characters, and an engrossing storyline make readers feel as if they’ve just consumed several chapters of a novel rather than 22 pages of a comic.
“Chapters” is a perfect way to describe the installments of this four-part miniseries. Much happens in the course of the book, but the plot never feels rushed or edited to fit within the pages of a comic. Time feels to flow naturally as the characters delve into the supernatural mystery at the heart of the story. The urgency felt in the narrative is there by design rather than being an effect of the medium’s limitations. I had to check the page count at the end of the issue – it felt like a longer story. That phenomena can be attributed to the talents of writer Van Meter.
Van Meter has crafted a tale both of this world and not that resonate in multiple ways. The traits of the supernatural Doctor Mirage are like the components of a spell: a dash of love story, a portion of mystery, a bit of horror, and a splash of adventure. Van Meter keeps the elements well-balanced. The story never feels pulled too far in any one direction. There is a plausibility to her supernatural which lets the reader easily accept the paranormal. There is horror, but it is never heavy-handed or gory. What makes her horror spine-chilling is the effect that the metaphysical has upon our world as well as the conceivability of that prospect.
Van Meter is faithful to the characters, creating flawed but likeable protagonists in Shan and Hwen that readers will want to throw their support behind. Nothing goes to waste or is placed merely for fluff. Even minor characters are given personality and purpose.
Second Lives #2 unravels more of the mystery surrounding the Vita Secunda and what has been unwittingly loosed upon the world. What began as a quest to give physicality to the spiritual has turned into a globe-trotting race against time as the Mirages prepare to track down the threat to both the physical and metaphysical world. As seen in the first issue, it’s not just Shan who is in danger of losing her life, but Hwen as well, as this new enemy has the ability to destroy ghosts.
Several new characters were introduced in issue #1, enlarging the known Mirage world and giving readers a deeper look into the “second lives” of the Mirages, giving this personal story a larger world-view. Second Lives #2 reintroduces some notable characters from the first miniseries, effectively tying the two series together.
Once again artist Roberto De La Torre and colorist David Baron team up to create a world that merges two planes – the physical and the mystic. It’s a gorgeous book, both in its lines and its colors. The effect is haunting and somber. De La Torre’s attractive characters have an energy that makes the eye believe you are watching cinema. It’s easy to imagine them physically moving from panel to panel. Baron’s colors are highly effective, incorporating both real world colors and the moody, ethereal feel of the paranormal. His use of unusual schemes makes it easy to follow what is physical and metaphysical, even giving mental cues as to a character’s morality.
The Death Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives #2 raises the stakes and takes readers deeper into the secret lives of paranormal experts. This is an excellent miniseries and shouldn’t be missed.