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Friday, March 5, 2010

Madame Mirage. Paul Dini (Writer), Kenneth Rocafort (Art), Troy Peteri (Letters). Top Cow Productions (2008)

A very sharp script with beautiful art combine for a great superhero story. When bio-engineering and technology start to make super powered people a reality, the emergence of super villains overshadowed the existence of super heroes. A backlash ensures that the science and technology were outlawed and the inventors imprisoned. The more perceptive blended into the corporate background and continued with their activities on a more covert level. A mysterious woman is picking off the villains that hide behind their legitimate business ventures. The story develops very nicely, the reveals are cleverly staged and tired, familiar expectations are raised and dodged and the climax is satisfyingly sour. Also it has the best supervillian corporation name I have ever read.
Paul Dini has a very interesting spin on the sleazy coyness that infects so many superhero stories. The title character has the anatomy and costume of all to many female comic cast members, sadly overdeveloped, under dressed and usually written as skimpily as their costume but as one character remarks in the book, "Appearances can be deceptive". Paul Dini takes a chance in using a cliche as sticky as this one, he is a skillful enough writer to not get trapped by it, Madame Mirage has a personality bigger than her breasts.
There is one jarring point in the book, it is a "the hero escaped with a single bound" variety. It jars because Paul Dini has been so careful in the rest of the story to make the action flow naturally from the context, it feels as though he had written himself into a corner and to get to where he wanted he needed to be he had to simply jump. It does not detract from the story, that it is visible at all is a tribute to the overall quality of the script.
Kenneth Rocafort's art is a joy to read, it brings all the life and colour out in the script, the cast are full of energy and individual presence. Action scenes are fast and detailed as required, the slower scenes are full of expression. It is nicely distinctive, the panel layouts are superb. This is a rare beast, a clever, thoughtful superhero story that respects the genre and the reader equally.

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