Doctor Mirage finally returned to Valiant in a new miniseries, though it is not the character you might remember from the 1990s. In this series, Doctor Mirage is a woman who goes by the name of Shan and she finds herself situated in the mystical side of the Valiant Universe more often than not. Things have not been the greatest personally for her though as a number of years before she lost her husband Hwen. Now, accepting a job from a man who wants to be free from his magical prison, of a sort, she is able to travel to the lands of the dead and from there, with a lot of hope in her heart, she will hopefully be able to find and free Hwen from whatever possible torment he may be in.
With this series, Valiant achieved two goals – one being the sort-of introduction of its newest hero and the second, an expansion of the mystical nature of its universe, first introduced in Shadowman with the Deadside and a few of its periphery realms. Here, those lands are expanded upon as Shan makes her way through them on her quest. While the Deadside was an interesting and spooky place, where Shan goes, those territories are fairly unassuming and might be even more frightening because of it. Written by Jen Van Meter and drawn by Roberto De La Torre, Doctor Mirage sets itself apart from the bunch by not only having a female lead, but also because of the horror present within. Most of Valiant’s titles are books that feature action and excitement and science-fiction galore. This book features a little of the former, none of the latter and concentrates more on supernatural and horror aspects, something that gives their universe a little more well-roundedness. Ven Meter’s story is compelling and gives it a creepy edge while De La Torre’s artwork provides the stunning visuals needed to hook you in fully.
Shan herself is a character who was a bit of an unknown before, but here, Van Meter really fleshes her out and we really get to know who she is. For the most part, she keeps the world outside, both personally and professionally. Sometimes she takes cases, those that interest her, but she would much rather be left alone than deal with anybody. The loss of Hwen affected her greatly, more than she probably cares to admit and now that she is given a chance to possibly see him again and maybe even bring him back, she will do whatever it takes to accomplish her mission. Shan is strong, able and someone you cannot help but root for as she crosses worlds for the sake of a love she never gave up on.
Horror is still somewhat new for Valiant. Shadowman was good and under the pen of Justin Jordan and Peter Milligan, they did a great job of bringing it into the Valiant Universe and setting a foothold for something different from everything else that the company was doing. With Doctor Mirage, that foothold has now been expanded and it is very welcoming to see. Everything the company has done has been quite good, but without change, things tend to get a little stale. Doctor Mirage fills that gap that the publisher currently has and with a second series already announced, it looks like Shan and Hwen just might have a promising future indeed.