Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Second Life of Doctor Mirage #14 and #15 (Classic Valiant)

An old collegiate acquaintance of ghostly paranormal investigator Hwen Mirage calls on him for help in researching Thornton Manor, a house in Providence, Rhode Island with a history of hauntings. Worse still, the house's current occupants-a family-have disappeared without a trace. Hwen and his wife Carmen investigate the manor, and soon come face to face with the house's violent spiritual manifestation, and have to figure out how to take it down before it can drain Hwen's necromantic lifeforce...

This story is by far the most horrific of The Second Life of Dr. Mirage. The series has always been a lightearted supernatural comedy, and while things have gotten dark, it's never gone into outright horror territory. That changes with these issues, which are a lot more ghoulish than the rest of the series.

Due to the more darker tone of this story, there's a lot less humour than other issues, which is fine. This series has always meshed genres well, and they never get in the way of each-other, which can be the undoing of many comedy-horrors.

This is a very well-written story, with nice dramatic moments, ghoulish ones, and a great climax! For the first time in this series, we get narration boxes here, and they're actually decent, unlike most Valiant comics. Hwen's inner monologue doesn't supplant his dialogue, which is the problem most Valiant comics have with narration. They break the 'show, don't tell rule', and oftentimes, the leads would get only a couple of lines of real dialogue per issue, with the vast majority of their 'dialogue' being narration. Second Life completely bucks this problem, showing just how good its writing is.

Hwen Mirage is a great character here. He's a resourceful, likeable lead, and his actions are very compassionate and heroic! As for Carmen, she's just as important, and gets her dramatic moments too.

The remaining characters here are good. Rico only appears briefly at the very start, while Mama Fong isn't present. The supporting leads, Professor Mabry, and Chris, and likeable enough leads, and Mabry's backstory gives him a degree of character.

The art in these issues is great! It's a little off in a couple of spots, but nothing major. Although the two saliva-expression moments when characters are hurt are a bit annoying, especially when it comes to Hwen, who, as a ghost, doesn't have saliva!

The covers are middling. Issue #14's is good, but #15's it pretty meh. Not only is it a non-sequitur, but it shows too little, which is a problem exacerbated by the blank white background, which looks like a Microsoft Word whiteout mistake.

This is a very good Second Life of Doctor Mirage story, and it's a shame that it's the penultimate one in the series. Only one more...

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