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Friday, November 7, 2008

"Madame Mirage" TPB by Paul Dini & Kenneth Rocafort (Reviewed by Robert Thompson)

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ABOUT MADAME MIRAGE: Who is this beautiful woman who appears out of the mist? As deadly as she is beautiful, she is cutting a bloody path through the city's villains, who now wear suits and have “legitimate” businesses. But who is her ultimate prey? And how does this Mirage take form? These and many other questions will be asked along with the most pivotal question of all—Who is Madame Mirage?

From the magical mind of Paul Dini (Countdown, Detective Comics) and the atmospheric and kinetic style of rising artistic star, Kenneth Rocafort (Hunter-Killer), comes a tale of murder, intrigue and revenge in a world of high-tech espionage and treachery. Madame Mirage—you’ll never forget her . . . if you can make her acquaintance and live to tell the tale…

CLASSIFICATION:Madame Mirage” is an interesting cocktail. Setting-wise, the story takes place in a near alternate future where bio-engineering and cybernetic enhancements (Mega-Tech) have made superheroes and supervillains a reality. Thus, the comic’s superhero and science fiction flavors. Then there’s the title character, Madame Mirage, who is like a cross between Mystique, Sydney Bristow and a 1940s/50s femme fatale. Finally, the plot is just a good old-fashioned tale of revenge seasoned with a strong dose of subterfuge, pulse-pounding thrills, and a noir-ish mystery. All together, “Madame Mirage” is like Heroes meets Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer meets Alias meets The Spirit

FORMAT/INFO: The “Madame Mirage” Trade Paperback is 176 pages long and contains the entire six-issue miniseries. The graphic novel also contains an introduction by former
Top Cow Productions Editor-In-Chief Jim McLauchlin, a note from Paul Dini himself, a Cover Gallery that includes all of the different variant covers, a Kenneth Rocafort Sketchbook, and an all-new cover by Rocafort. The “Madame Mirage” TPB was released to comic book stores on September 24, 2008 and made available on on October 8, 2008. “Madame Mirage” is published by Top Cow with a second series planned for 2009 release.

ANALYSIS: Whether it was his award-winning work on the Batman and Batman Beyond animated series, his contribution to my favorite show on television—Lost—or his acclaimed efforts in comic books, I’m a huge fan of Paul Dini, particularly his original creation Harley Quinn. So when his new original creation, Madame Mirage, was announced, it became an instant must-read. And not surprisingly, Madame Mirage delivers the goods…

Paul Dini possesses many admirable qualities as a writer including a vivid imagination, breakneck pacing, a wonderful sense of humor, an ear for dialogue, and an ability to keep readers on their toes—all qualities that can be found in Madame Mirage. Yet, Paul Dini’s most important quality as a writer is his ability to entertain the reader, and Madame Mirage is no exception, which is a good thing because the writing is not perfect.

For one, Madame Mirage is not really that original. Yes, the concept and hook behind Mirage is admittedly cool and offers ample opportunities for clever misdirection and shocking revelations, but both the setting and the main storyline for revenge are formulaic, there are a bunch of recognizable gimmicks in the book like Mirage’s fire-symbol scene รก la The Crow, and the villains—which includes a teleporter, a guy dressed up in an elephant suit, a woman with living hair, a psychic, and the egotistical leader bent on money and power—are terribly generic. Additionally, I thought the subplots involving Special Agent TJ Whitaker of Mega-Tech Investigations and Alexander Temple were underdeveloped, and that the identity of Madame Mirage was revealed too soon—although I did enjoy the way her ‘origin’ was explained. I was also really impressed with how ruthless Mirage was. Basically, Paul doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to Mirage and you can expect her to stick to the path she’s chosen, all the way to the bittersweet end…

So like I said, the writing is not without problems, but it’s easy to forgive Mr. Dini the occasional slipup, especially when Madame Mirage is so much damn fun to read :)

Now, as much as I love Paul Dini’s writing, what really attracted me to Madame Mirage in the first place was the stunning artwork. I had never heard of Kenneth Rocafort before, but stylistically he reminded me a bit of Michael Turner, Marc Silvestri and David Finch—three of my favorite comic book artists in the business—so it wasn’t long before I fell in love with Rocafort’s style. What I like about Kenneth’s artwork is his diversity. Smokin’ babes, cool-looking tech and costume designs, lots of fine details, energetic storytelling—all that and much more can be found in Rocafort’s artwork which not only complements Dini’s writing, but at times, improves it. On top of that, the coloring provided by
Imaginary Friends Studios is top-notch…

CONCLUSION:Madame Mirage” is not the most unique or original graphic novel that I have ever read. In fact, it’s not even close. But it is one of the most entertaining comic books I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy recently—Paul Dini and Kenneth Rocafort make a winning combination!—and I can’t wait to read more Madame Mirage


Best known as a producer/writer of such acclaimed animated TV series as Batman, Superman, Batman Beyond, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, Paul Dini has won five Emmys for his work. He’s also won two Writer’s Guild Awards including one for the popular TV show
Lost. Now Paul is making a name for himself in the world of comic books with Countdown, Detective Comics, Jingle Belle and Madame Mirage.

Kenneth Rocafort is a Puerto Rican artist who has worked in various fields of the entertainment industry such as theatre, animation, video game and toy box art, magazines, advertisement and comic books including “Hunter-Killer”, “Madame Mirage” and “Pilot Season: The Core”. He’s currently working on a
Marvel project written by C.B. Cebulski (Wonderlost, Loners).


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