Last winter, I spent my vacation catching up on some comics which led to a binge of Valiant Entertainment’s The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage. Written by Jen Van Meter with art by Roberto De La Torre, The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage was a five-issue limited series that began in September 2014 and was a reboot of the old series by Bob Layton and Bernard Chang from the early ’90s.
The original series starred Doctor Hwen Mirage as the title character alongside his associate and wife, Carmen Ruiz. In Valiant’s new series, this iteration of Doctor Mirage is Shan Fong, Hwen’s widow and a semi-retired paranormal investigator who can see the dead. The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage is a contemporized return to the series, adding a lead woman of colour to their line up without falling into the trap of whitewashing. In her limited five-issue run, Jen Van Meter developed a tight and beautifully written story that I think would be a great gateway into the weird world of Valiant for newcomers like myself. I loved Roberto Del La Torre’s art. The pencil lines made me think of life drawings; the images felt like they were sketches of real people being realized rather than two-dimensional characters. Between Van Meter and De la Torre, I found The Death Defying Doctor Mirage incredible and clearly the recent Harvey nominations agree with me: both creators are up for awards (Best Writer and Most Promising New Talent for Van Meter and Best Artist for De la Torre).
If you’ve read this series then, like me, you’re sad that it only had five issues. Lucky for all of us, Valiant announced during the #ValiantSummit earlier this month that Doctor Mirage will return in a new four part series called The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives.
[SPOILER WARNING for the first series]
“Shan and Hwen Mirage lived their lives thrall to an epic love that few will ever have … and died tragically before their time. Pulled back alone from beyond the brink of death, Shan thought she had lost her beloved husband and soulmate forever. But, gifted with the power to speak with the dead and armed with years of experience in the otherworldly, she braved the depths of the underworld and returned her husband’s lost spirit to the land of the living. Now reunited, Shan and Hwen once again have a bright future ahead of them … but Hwen is still an intangible spirit of the dead. Though his company is a comfort to Shan, he still cannot open a spell-book, lift an occult artifact, wield an instrument of power … or so much as touch his wife.
With their options exhausted, the death-defying Doctors Mirage are about to risk everything and enact a dangerous spell to restore Hwen’s solid form … and grant his ghost a second life. But, in the wrong hands, their ancient rite will become a tool of terror–and unleash a force of pure, homicidal evil that lusts for the murder of the living and the dead alike … a torturous death that obliterates not just everything a person ever had in this world, but everything their ghost will be in the next!
Now Shan and Hwen Mirage must stop the vile being they’ve unwittingly released … but even they can’t do it alone. And, soon, they’ll be forced to turn for help to the last devil they ever want to deal with…”
I loved that they’re paying homage to the original series with the name Second Lives. At first, I was sad that it was yet another limited run rather than an ongoing, but the limited format makes for better storytelling, and if we get to see more of Dr. Mirage in other limited runs, I’ll a happy camper. It’s exciting to have the creative gang back together with the addition of Kevin Wada doing the covers (love!), and you can look out for the first issue of the new series this December. In the meantime, check out this sneak peek: