In this installment of Trade Waiting, I'm going to look at the creator owned series, Madame Mirage, by one Paul Dini. Batman: The Animate Series was my first exposure to superheroes and Paul Dini, in general, and the series still holds up to this day, continuing to be one of the shining examples of doing superheroes right.
However, I've been less than impressed of what little I've read of Dini's DC output and even less so with what I've heard about the stuff I haven't read. Of course, it's not completely fair to judge Dini by what I've only heard about, but it does stops me from checking out more his stuff. That said, one series I have heard good things about was Madame Mirage and, as such, decided to go ahead and pick the trade of it up. Hit the jump for my review.
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Kenneth Rocafort
Collects Madame Mirage #1-6
Madame Mirage is a revenge tale in world where superheroes have been outlawed and villains operate clandestinely behind the guise of legitimate businesses.
The main plot of the book is about Madame Mirage's war against Aggressive Solutions, Inc., which is a front for a group of villains she has set her sights on for past transgressions. She slowly kills members of their organization and, generally, tries to undermine their operations as part of her quest to get revenge.
As the story goes on, more and more information about Mirage's back story and motivations are revealed. The best part of the story is the fact that there are so many well written and actually shocking plot twists that are not forced nor can be seen coming from a mile away. The best one, though, is when Dini reveals Madame Mirage's origin/identity. Definitely one the best written reveals in comics that I've ever read.
There is also some depth to be found in the story, mostly through the characters, who are well developed through out the book. Dini plays with some genre expectations, but doesn't really do anything overly innovative with it. Mirage and her younger sister, Harper, who assists her in her mission, are nice, well rounded characters and Dini makes great use of them. They work well together as characters and play off of each other nicely.
The main villains in the story are less developed, but they are functioning characters and, luckily, most of them are not direct rip-offs/homages/pastiches of established Marvel or DC characters, something that I typically loathe in Indie superhero books. Dini also ends the story properly and it's not the kind that sets up a direct sequel but, at the same time, leaves room open for more stories down the road.
The art is by Kenneth Rocafort and he works well with the material and story. I get a Leinil Yu vibe from his work, but it's still its own thing. His work matches the tone and style that Dini is going for, which is the most important thing. There are some cheesecake elements to the story too, but Rocafort's art isn't overly absurd in its exaggerations of women and Dini does use it to some effect in the story itself. He does a great job with the special effects, which helps to improve the story since they play such a large part. His story telling is generally good and there are no big flaws or anything major missing, but it's not overly impressive either. His action scenes are dynamic and engaging, though, and really help to bring the book alive when needed.
Verdict - Must Read. A book that defies expectations in several ways while being something truly original and of excellent quality at the same time. Dini and Rocafort create an enjoyable tale that delights with both action and story.
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