Sunday, May 19, 2024

Doctor Mirage #2 Takes Us Into Shan’s Psychedelic Past

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Valiant is back with Issue #2 of Doctor Mirage from Magdalene Visaggio and Nick Robles. This is Issue two of five, and  it released today, September 25th. Did the first issue leave you with more questions than answers? Shan’s adventure continues, but this next installment is nearly entirely backstory. And maybe, just maybe, we have enough clues to figure out how she got to her current state.

This issue opens right where issue one left off: with Grace wanting Shan to take drugs. Shan, still skeptical, opts for the magical route instead. She chooses to connect her mind to Grace’s and sync their sight. But instead of the technicolor whirlwind, Shan instead sees her past. We follow Shan on a desperate mission through ancient texts. She seeks the Cult of Isis, hoping they can still bring the dead back to life. She wants to bring Hwen back from the dead, even though he is against her scheming and especially her rash action. Whenever this past is, Shan still had her powers. After her request for aid is denied she does the only thing she feels she can. She sneaks in, binds the remaining lineage of the cult with magic, and attempts the ritual herself. We don’t see the results, but Shan is jolted back to the present—and in tears.


What exactly happened in that misguided ritual attempt? Could this be how Shan ended up in hell (or lost her powers)? She disrespected a priestess of a powerful and ancient tradition. She demands a sacred ritual within minutes of being welcomed into a long-hidden temple. Hwen, by the way, berates her for her behavior and sides with the priestess. In a quick, emotionally-charged scene, Valiant is able to give a rundown of cultural appropriation and respect when working with ancient, closed traditions. Personally, this added a depth to Doctor Mirage that I was all too happy to see. These creators are doing more than dropping names to create an atmosphere, and their research and care shows.

This installment adds so many layers to Shan. Instead of a character written in pinks and blues, this time her tale is mostly yellows and greens. My new favorite thing is to watch the colors evolve panel by panel. The Cult of Isis is shown in deep yellow and warm tones. Shan’s desperation and magic are a sickly green. When she is pulled back to the present it is once again in pink and blue. We can actually watch those colors wash over her. And in the end? We are back to technicolor: melding with Grace’s mind worked. Reading into all this color, I think we see more evidence that Shan’s involvement with the Cult of Isis is exactly how she ended up where we found her in issue one. The palette is the inverse of her hiding and depression. Should I base all my theories on color choices? I trust the artist enough to go for it.

“Next Issue: Hunted by the Embalmer?” Since embalming is an Ancient Egyptian practice, I sincerely hope this has more to do with whatever happened to Shan in that temple. Find out with me in Issue #3 on November 5th, 2019.

DOCTOR MIRAGE #2 (of 5) 




Letters by DAVE SHARPE

Review copy and images courtesy of Valiant Entertainment

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