Dr. Mirage uses her magic to connect with Grace’s mind, to see what she sees in the hopes of seeing Hwen again. She gets more than she bargained for in Dr. Mirage #3 from Valiant Entertainment.
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Nick Robles
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Lysa Hawkins
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 23, 2019
Previously in Dr. Mirage: Shan Fong Mirage has lost her ability to communicate with the dead, and now a teenager named Grace has come to her house, claiming that Hwen (Shan’s dead husband) sent her. Grace claims that she and Shan are both dead and encourages Shan to take her medication and join her in the world that she sees. In the meantime, there is a hidden narrator whose voice sounds like they’re directing a television show. We see a flashback of a time when Shan sought out the Cult of Isis in an attempt to bring Hwen back, and suddenly, without the use of medication, Shan can see Grace’s world.
THE POWER OF DEATH AND LOSS
Dr. Mirage #3 opens on a death ritual in Ancient Egypt, a very symbolic choice. Then the director cues the camera operator to reveal what Shan Mirage is seeing now. She has been to the Deadside before, but this looks nothing like what she was expecting, nothing like what she has seen before. One little problem – she still cannot see Hwen. She confronts Grace about this, and Grace doubles down on her story that they’re dead and looking for the way out. Are we Orpheus going into the Underworld, or Orpheus trying to find his way back out again?
In fact, Grace is sure they’re in Hell – hence the fire-breathing monsters. She encourages Dr. Mirage to use her combat magic against them. After this, Shan tries to pin Grace down – why can she not see Hwen? She is seeing everything that Grace does. Grace retorts that it was Shan who assumed this. But she entices Shan further on by telling her it’s what Hwen is telling her, and then briefly turns to the “camera person” and winks. And there are watchers here who are trying to get her to a specific place. Who is Grace, and who are the manipulators behind her?
They come upon a kind of normal looking modern house tucked into the bizarre landscape. Inside, it looks distinctly Gothic. And Grace tells her that Hwen did not follow them in here. They find a large hall with an eviscerated body, shades of the opening, but things don’t seem quite complete. Grace tells Dr. Mirage that Hwen said she would know what to do. She picks up a ceremonial knife – and a huge, snake-bodied death god calling himself The Embalmer confronts her, accusing her of defiling the border between life and death. He grabs Shan, Grace picks up the knife, a fight starts…and the director continues to comment.
MOODY AND TRIPPY
The settings are so wild in Dr. Mirage #3 that there are times they almost overwhelm the characters. This is where the color choices become so important. I do like the contrast between Ancient Egypt, primarily in greens, to the vivid pink tones of Grace’s world. Her view is so strange and trippy. If this is hell, it is not the classic version we are familiar with. There are large bones and symbols of the dead, but there are also eldritch arches, desolate landscapes, floating orbs and upside-down pyramids.
I do like the return to Egyptian-style imagery. So much of the ancient culture that has survived is related to death and is also widely-enough known that it serves as a touchstone. It is still exotic and mystical, but we understand it. I like the Embalmer, who is terrifying, and the fight with him is really exciting.
BOTTOM LINE: METAPHOR VS. REALITY
I am intrigued by the premise of Dr. Mirage #3. I like the uncertainty of whether it takes place somewhere in the Deadside, or in Grace’s head, or even in Shan’s own mind. Because of this uncertainty, it is also a little nebulous as far as what is actually going on. I like the exploration into themes of loss, though.
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Dr. Mirage #3
Is Shan Fong Mirage truly dead or merely visiting the Deadside? And has she been set up?