The Alpha Review
By Andrew Uys
I’ve heard that trade paperbacks — a run of comic issues collected into a graphic novel — are all the rage today. But which ones are worth your time? This column aims to put the spotlight on the spectacular trades — at least according to this writer. And just for fun, we will start with the letter “A,” and each subsequent review will follow with the next letter of the alphabet. While you might object to my taste or my opinion, I hope that this column will help save you time and money when you are next buying a trade paperback, as well as effort in alphabetizing.
M is for Madame Mirage
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Kenneth Rocafort
Top Cow, 2008
Madame Mirage collects the six issues of the mini-series that came out over the past year. A largely unknown book, it was a personal favourite of mine when originally published. Unfortunately, the back issues are a little difficult to find, but the recently released TPB is a second chance to read this great comic.
Set in a world of high-technology, corporate super-humans, and criminal organizations, it stars Madame Mirage, an illusionist set on bringing down the evil organization that robbed her of her family. There is far more to the character than it seems as first, and both the back story and plot revelations explaining her powers are well thought-out, and wonderfully done. Mix a great storyline with stunning pencils that convey the grittiness of the world, yet include touches of cheesecake art, and you have a great comic.
Created and written by Paul Dini, Madame Mirage is both the story of a woman bent on revenge, and a finely-layered series of plots that, as each is peeled back, make the starting premise so much more enjoyable. Most famous for his work on the Batman and Superman Animated Series, Dini has said that the title character was inspired by his wife. Certainly, the depth of writing reflects a deep passion for the character. Kenneth Rocafort’s pencils are what initially drew me to the series. Rocafort has done work for Top Cow before, penciling Hunter-Killer, and is now working on Broken Trinity. It’s Rocafort’s pencils that make you believe in Madame Mirage’s “magic”, and the panel layouts on each page are easy to read, yet incredibly dynamic and forceful. He also brings a little cheesecake to his women, penciling these stunningly sexy heroes and villains. Madame Mirage works both as a book and as a character because of Rocafort’s art.
The Madame Mirage TPB collects the run in its entirety, though there are rumors of the team doing a second six-issue mini-arc. What really makes the book work, apart from compelling characters, well-layered plots, and fantastic art, is that the story seems grounded in the “real world.” The idea behind the heroes is that they are “created” through technology and bio-engineering, whereas the backbone of the plot is an exploration of what corporations would do if they had access to this technology. In a way, this is our world, shunted a dozen years into the future. The only other book I can compare it to, in this regard, is War Heroes by Mark Millar and Tony Harris. Pick up a copy of Madame Mirage; between the story and the art, you are bound to enjoy it.