Sunday, September 28, 2008

Madame Mirage Vol 1 Trade & All Star Batman and Robin #10

Madame Mirage Vol. 1 Trade Paperback
Story by Paul Dini
Art by Kenneth Rocafort
Published by Top Cow

The story of murder, intrigue and revenge with superpowers, this is Madame Mirage. "Mirage" takes place in a world where superheroes are man-made creations through the advances in technology or bio-engineering to turn people into metahumans and metahumans into gods. Though when there are heroes, there must be villains. As people took advantage of the mega-tech for personal gain, the technology was banned, the superheroes became outlawed and the real outlaws went underground.

Aggressive Solutions Int. or A.S.I., is run by a cabal of villain groups. To the people, they are some kind of Los Angeles-based public relations firm or trouble-shooting agency. In reality, they are a front for a gang of powerful villains. All has gone well, until A.S.I. finds itself as a target of a relentless and violent vendetta by the mysterious woman calling herself Madame Mirage.
Paul Dini pitched the idea of Madame Mirage seven years prior to the first issue of the book. The early concept was pitched to an internet animation studio, where they wanted an action-driven femme fatale series. However, the studio had already gone out of business the weekend following the meeting. Following that, Dini put the Mirage pitch in the sketchbook where it remained for years until Jim McLauchlin came on board at Top Cow as an editor, and was interested in creating a new series about a tough new heroine and contacting Paul Dini. He brought back the Mirage concept, updated it because of how many years since the first pitch, and finally he started scripting the stories.

Dini compares Mirage to pulp hero The Shadow with a hint of Zatanna. Mirage employs various degrees of superpowers including mind control, "magic" and shape shifting in order to confound and destroy her enemies. To the point where she confronts an enemy, it is unknown what she will do or use to attack. It is worth noting that Madame Mirage and her visual appearance is based on his wife, Misty Lee, who is a magician and illusionist. The other thing about Mirage is that she has a younger sister named Harper, who acts as her backup on these missions against the A.S.I.

There is a plethora of twists and turns in this book that makes this title worthy to reckoned with. Some of which I don't care to mention because they would ruin a lot, including issue three in which we learn Mirage's origin. The action is superb and never dull. The book feels like a non-stop chase with Mirage just one step ahead of the bad guys. Dini weaves a tale of espionage and intrigue that we have not seen in comics in quite some time. Despite Dini's kid-friendly past with his DC superhero shows, Mirage is a book intended for mature readers with a climax that rivals "Kill Bill". Rocafort's art is simply ravishing. Madame Mirage will keep you guessing until the very end! The Volume 1 trade is the first story arc, but there will be another one coming out next year. Along with the issues, the extras are frosting on the cake. It has a cover gallery by Rocafort and variant covers by Greg Horn as well as initial sketch designs by Dini and Rocafort. It would be a crying shame for anybody to not pick up this collection if you missed out the first time around.

I'm the minority here when I claim I actually like this book. Sure, it's Sin City dialogue coming out of Gotham City's mouth, but I think the "All Star Batman" brand is merely misunderstood.
I have read quite a few interviews with authors, and being a aspiring writer myself I agree, some writers will sell rights to Hollywood for treatment of their material for the cash and for good reason. What do they care if Hollywood butchers it or not? It doesn't change the book, it will always be the same. If anything, it might generate more of an audience for the writer. And as for everyone stating that All Star Bats here isn't worth burning because it's not even worth a match, it's because its not Batman, well, its not suppose to be. If you want the Batman you know and love, just read that. Who wants to just see the same old? I compare it a lot to cover songs. I'm a sucker for a good cover song because I want to see someone else take on a song I may, or may not, already like. Its not the original, but I was never expecting the original in the first place. On that note, not all is lost as Jim Lee continues to give his all on this book. He's given multiple double-page spreads and splash pages to flex his artist muscle and, as always, nails them out of the park. Just like the best artists in the industry, Jim Lee delivers iconic images that pop off the page once his artist team of Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair get a hold of his work. It's just a shame that a Jim Lee and company drawn comic comes so rarely these days because I can never get enough of them. Some of my personal favorites from this month are the image of Batman holding a beaten Catwoman as well as Batman and Robin hitching a ride on a speeding train and to top it off, a touching moment between Jim Gordon and his daughter. That's just some "this is what comics are about" moments that this title is capable of.

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