Having lost her connection to ghosts, Shan Fong Mirage feels incredibly isolated. Can a possibly delusional young lady help her understand what is going on in her own soul? Find out in Dr. Mirage #2!
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Nick Robles
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Lysa Hawkins
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 25, 2019
Previously in Dr. Mirage: Shan Fong Mirage, famous paranormal investigator, is feeling more alone than she has in years. Since she was a child, she has been able to talk to ghosts, and this has helped her get along after the death of her husband, Hwen, since she can still talk to him. But now she no longer has that ability and she can’t figure out why. Trying to open a gate to the Deadside, she blows the roof off her house, and the next thing she knows, a sixteen-year old is knocking at her door, claiming that Hwen sent her, claiming that her lack of ghosts is not due to a problem with the Deadside. And claiming that they’re both dead and in Hell.
BLURRING THE BORDERS OF REALITY
Grace may be delusional, or she may be telling the truth, considering that this is comics. As Dr. Mirage #2 opens, though, she is trying to talk Shan into taking some of her medication so they can both see the world that Grace sees. Shan is determined to do this her own way. Grace reminds her that they are both already dead. Dr. Mirage may or may not believe this, but she knows that Grace somehow found her magically hidden house, and knows more about her than she should, and she wants to join minds with her.
One thing that is interesting is that there is an omniscient narrator/observer who comments on what is happening as though they were directing a television production. This is already a surreal story, and this adds another intriguing layer to the story.
But the central theme of this issue seems to be that you cannot bring people back from the dead. Cue a flashback to Turkey eight months previous. Shan, with Hwen beside her as a ghost, is looking for a priest of Isis, a cult which has the keys to life and death. As driven as she is to go through with his, Hwen is resigned to being dead and gently attempts to dissuade her. They arrive at the priest’s house, finding a priestess who is willing to talk with them, and her grandson who is more cautious and suspicious. Sezen, the Priestess of Isis, has an Egyptian temple in her basement. She is willing to show this to Shan right up to the point where Shan mentions that her husband is dead. The Cult of Isis does not allow people to use their mysteries for selfish reasons, and Sezen kicks Shan out.
Shan is determined. She comes back that night armed with magic, determined to do what she set out to do despite Hwen continuing to tell her that this is a bad idea. And then, quite abruptly, we rejoin Shan and Grace in the present where, without medication, Shan has made her way into the world that Grace sees, the world in which she sees the dead.
FROM THE MYSTICAL TO THE SURREAL
Dr. Mirage #2 opens right on a contrast view of Shan’s house as she sees it and again as Grace sees it. While Grace is presented as possibly psychotic, her view of the world goes beyond hallucinations and delusions into the frankly surreal. The colors are vivid, and her font looks as though the medications affect her speech as well. It’s an interesting portrayal of someone who may be mentally ill, but it’s even more convincing as a world that is only obliquely connected to our own. It is so stunningly different that we have no doubt that we are not in the normal world, wherever we actually are.
I also really like the contrast of this against our world. The flashback to Turkey is quite lovely and overall feels real. The temple in the basement is dramatic and tantalizing – I understand why Shan wants to come back because suddenly the whole Cult of Isis thing seems plausible. When Shan comes back, tries to use the temple for her own purposes, and finds herself in Grace’s world, I get the sense of “What if she did actually die, and this was when it happened?”
BOTTOM LINE: THE DIVINE MYSTERY OF DEATH
Dr. Mirage #2 is clearly inspired by the mythology that abounds about how we cannot bring people back from the dead. She and Hwen are perfect characters to set in this framework to explore it from a modern angle. It’s a story that feels fresh and classic at the same time, and I like the way it plays with the perception of reality.
Dr. Mirage #2
Is the road to death always destined to be a one-way journey?