I’ve been loving The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage miniseries quite a bit, so it was a little bittersweet to hold the final issue in my hands. Jen Van Meter and Roberto De La Torre have lovingly crafted the return of Shan Fong and the final issue solidifies this short run as a fantastic entry to Valiant’s catalogue.
This is it. The wall that separates our world from the spirit wall is ready to fall and the demon Ivros stands ready with his horde to invade the land of the living. Shan has found the spirit of her deceased husband and his magic staff and she is forced to choose between reuniting with her lost love or saving the world and her physical body. The stakes are high and the weight of that choice is felt through the issue.
Van Meter’s story has been overwhelming at times, but it has all culminated in a climax that brings everything together in an understandable and satisfying way. The series as a whole has developed a well-realized version of the spirit world and though we don’t see much of it outside of the demon horde this issue, the previous groundwork helps invest the reader in the fate of the spirits.
There are some really touching moments throughout the issue, as was to be expected. It’s a story of love strong enough to cross the boundaries of reality. Seeing Shan and Hwen interact is exactly the payoff the series has been building to. It’s handled masterfully in the story. The action scenes of the book are well paced and, aside from one stumble in the middle, do a great job of building the tension.
De La Torre has consistently been producing great panels in the series and his depiction of the supernatural elements has been one of the highest points of the book. The heavily shaded demons in contrast with the glowing spectres are wonderful to behold. I found myself stopping to admire the panels featuring that juxtaposition both times I read it. Colorist David Baron and De La Torre make for an excellent team. The one problem I had with the art was with some of the human faces. For the most important parts of the book I thought they were expressive and captured the emotion. However, there were a few panels where Shan’s face seemed a bit distorted.
The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage has been a great miniseries from start to finish. It’s a good introduction to an old Valiant character, but it’s also a good stand alone story that redefines the character. These are issues worth tracking down if you missed the series.
For the sake of spoilers, I’m not going to discuss the specifics of the ending. However, I was incredibly happy to see that Shan’s adventure is not over yet. Details are scarce, but a new story is coming at some point.