Article by, Mariah Senecal
Writer: Emma Rios
Artist: Hwei Lim
At first glance Mirror looks likes like a solemn circus related nightmare, but surprisingly there’s quite a lot of depth in this story and it has nothing to do with circuses. Emma Rios (Pretty Deadly, Island) and Hwei Lim (Lalage, Hero) have created a world filled with love, lore, magic and science; an interesting concoction that seems to be creating a story filled with hard choices, tough questions, and blurred lines between good and evil.
The Irzah colony is still relatively young, and their main purpose is unclear, but in the beginning you are introduced to a young boy named Ivan and his dog Sena who live in the colony. Their relationship is a bit unorthodox, especially as it becomes clear that in this colony they are using a mixture of science and magic to make animals more humanistic. Ivan is studying to be a mage, and his natural abilities are recognized early on by some questionable people. The story feels a bit like a mix between Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, but there are still many elements that have yet to be revealed. The first issue backtracks before jumping thirty years into the future, and throughout the issue you are introduced to several characters both human and animalistic. The character featured on the cover is Zun, and she will likely be the main focus in future issues. Although it is unclear how she came to be, we can assume that she will play an important role in changing the fate of Esagila.
Mirror is exceptionally well written and within the first issue it becomes apparent we have barely skimmed the surface of this story. There’s talk of rebels and war, yet I feel we should be more concerned about the ongoing animal experimentation. Rios addresses some heavy issues in a unique way. Mirror may not have been intended to bring up animal rights issues, but it certainly will regardless of their intentions. There’s a lot of missing history that needs to be filled in, and the hints of folklore are intriguing, but I’d love for them to be expanded on as well. Overall I was impressed with the dialogue and I’m eager to get my hands on more of this story.
Hwei Lim uses a painterly style in Mirror, and it results in many beautiful images with visible brush strokes and breathtaking colors. Lim favors watercolors and does a fantastic job creating shadows and adding depth when it is needed. Esagila is a beautiful place with plenty of sharp edges. It has the potential to look far more ominous than it is portrayed, which may be a useful detail in the future. The best part of Lim’s illustrations is that the story can easily be followed with or without the text. The expressiveness of each character’s face in addition to the beautiful settings and easy to follow interactions truly makes Lim’s work stand out. Many details that cannot be discerned from the text are clear in the illustrations, which effectively adds depth to the story and raises more questions for the reader (more reasons to come back for more!).
It seems that the odds are never stacked in the favor of those who need them, but then again the true hero is the one who fights for what they believe in even if it is a seemingly impossible task. This story is filled with impossible tasks and hard calls, and the blending of magic and science creates an interesting plot cocktail. Issue one ends with Zun venturing out into the world in search of someone who never came home, plenty of life-changing adventures await her, and I for one, will be hanging on for the ride. Mirror #1 was published on February 3rd and it is available both in print and digitally for $2.99.