From Valiant Comics, Magdalene Visaggio (Author), Nick Robles (Artist). Graphic novel to be released February 25, 2020. This review is from an advanced reader copy.
In this graphic novel collecting last year’s Doctor Mirage series, the good doctor has lost everything. Shan Fong used to be a paranormal investigator thanks to her ability to talk to the dead. She is aided by her late husband Hwen who is only late physically. Yet at the start of this series all of that has changed. Shan can no longer communicate with the dead, which means she has lost her husband as well. She is willing to cross any threshold necessary to regain her gift and Hwen. No form of incantation works as everything literally crashes down around her. Into all of our darkest moments a little Grace must fall, and in Shan’s case that’s a random teenage girl at her door. With a message from her husband. Now, in the real world no good can come from that situation but in this story Grace is offering to be Shan’s guide. It turns out Grace can also communicate with the dead, and she has a message for Shan from Hwen. The two open a door to realms Shan struggles to navigate while Grace is steering more than she lets on.
The comic does what years of peer pressure never could, show me a psychedelic world. Robles takes influences from Steranko, Timothy Leary, Grant Morrison and blends it all into a palette the pages struggle to comprehend. Get the book digitally and update your settings before reading, then maybe every tiny pixel can truly support all that bleeds not from printing but from realities.
Visaggio over the course of the series made me want to be smarter. Concepts like death, connections between humans, forces stronger than comprehension; all forcing new synapse creations as I read along. This journey for love is universal. There’s no shortage of stories detailing the lengths one would go to reunite with a loved one. But while the stories are universal I never previously thought of them as multi dimensional. What hope does one have against all powerful forces who see time not as seconds or minutes, but as eons?
All of these questions come to the forefront in the mysterious teenage guide, Grace. Grace is dangerously close to overtaking Shan as the star of this comic. All of her actions, a look to the side, a pause; everything she does makes me question what is going on. While the realities put life and death into question, Grace raises those same debates within the familiar form of humanity. While she is the best part of the comic, she is also the biggest problem. The Doctor Mirage character has had other adventures and there are other graphic novels collecting these series. Everything within this volume begs for a follow up. But I don’t want Shan part 2 or the previous tales of her and Hwen. I want more Grace.
I would greatly recommend this title as an eye opening comic book experience. Although, it might be a better read for you with more Doctor Mirage near by. My only complaint is I felt my unfamiliarity with the lead was causing me to not enjoy the title as deeply as fans no doubt will.
(A copy of this book was provided by Net Galley for review.)