My reading habits are dictated by random selections. If it has covers and falls into my hands, I will read it. I realize this confession might ruin whatever rep I have as a reader, but it is part of the book-a-holism. However, sometimes I’m pinched with interest the second my eyes pick up a title and I am grabbed hook, line and sinker. Madame Mirage is from that category. I fell for the title immediately, the covers whacked me on the head and the content brought me an hour of solid entertainment. What more can I ask for?
Madame Mirage is an eclectic crush with its own genre flavor. The world Paul Dini conjures carries that pulp fiction spirit, many found irresistible, while at the same time it is undeniably futuristic. The characters are technologically and genetically empowered and resemble super heroes minus the spandex and plus the fashion sense. And the story, you might ask? The story is one femme fatale on a solo mission to bring down a crime organization, gone legit into the assassination business. There is revenge, subterfuge and a high number of people dying.
I ascribe comic books to two distinct categories. The first are the comics with an adventurous story, which take your mind on a joy ride through escapist landscapes and work as chocolate for the brain. The second also possess entertainment value, but their purpose is to act as drugs for the heart, carrying an emotional pinch, caress or punch. When done well, both categories are worth the read and Madame Mirage falls in the first category.
Dini is a natural at weaving and maintaining mysteries and there’s no greater mystery than Madame Mirage. Even in this world, where science can augment human performance, Mirage has talents that perplex and confuse. She can coil into smoke, change her shape, duplicate herself, and fade out to nothing. All these talents she uses to kill bad guys. There’s speculation as to what her true identity is and whether she truly exists, something that I wondered as well and without success, until the big revelation. Dini puts in red herrings along the way like any self respecting mystery writer [in this case] would, but the actual answer comes to a surprise and I am positive that you wouldn’t have guess it either, reading this.
While the brain is left with this succulent puzzle to solve, the pleasure centre is left with an action packed plot to follow. Dini has created a wide range of adversaries for Madame Mirage to fight against and each brings out an interesting shade to the world. The reader will meet a hillbilly teleporter, a goth girl with sentient hair, a beach babe with hormone powers, a muscle freak with a vocabulary of made-up sophisticated words and the list goes on.
Dini might have these awesome ideas, but they wouldn’t have reached half their potential, if the wasn’t up to the challenge. Thankfully, Kenneth Rocafort saved the day with a vision, which left me salivating. I am all for exaggerated anatomy and Rocaford delivers. You can tell by the voluptuous Jessica Rabbit-esque figure he endowed Madame Mirage with. It is a very generous gift to the male audience, which usually dominate the readership of comics, so it comes to no surprise and I’ve yet to hear someone complain. Beyond the obvious, the lines are sharp and yet fluid, creating a sense of motion, which is a good quality to have. I can also say that to me it feels as if the panels can jump out from the page and infiltrate the real world, but I am no art expert and I may be wrong on all accounts. What remains is that my itch for a good comic has been scratched in the best possible way.