Since its first issue, Mirror has examined the human desire to change, to mold, to experiment, and what happens when that desire comes up against an alien, greater power. This issue brings the conflict between several factions to a head: the humans, the modified animals and Guardians, the Outsider, and the sentient asteroid Irzah.
Emma Rios deepens the mystery and pushes the story forward with Mirror #4. The concepts of a sentient asteroid and hybrid, mythical animals are interesting on their own, but I think I find Mirror’s story engaging because it’s so character-driven. In some narratives, the cast of characters are flat. Their desires and goals are easy to read, and the story is more predictable for it. But Mirror’s characters have varying depths, their motivations ranging from clear to totally opaque. Characters like Kazbek and Sena have established goals, and we see them pursuing those goals in each issue, but others like Aldebaran, or the alien Outsider, are more difficult to read. This issue includes some great examples of that, especially for the Outsider and the asteroid Irzah that have been a total mystery up to this point. Character growth keeps a story interesting, and I think Rios does a great job of staggering developments and revealing motivations to build Mirror’s momentum.
The developments in Mirror are not always easy to follow. Rios makes frequent use of flashbacks, and sometimes sequences that flow back-and-forth between multiple time periods, to add depth to characters and explain certain aspects of the story. Some pages are very chaotic, depicting different places in shattered panels. But after each issue I find myself more than happy to go back and read through again, gaining a better understanding, because this is turning out to be a truly intoxicating story.
Rios has imagined a deeply interesting world, and her ideas are matched, and enhanced, by Hwei Lim’s work in the art department. Her brushwork emphasizes the majestic, unearthly nature of the characters and world. My personal favorite is her design of Aldebaran, the minotaur. HIs bulk is clearly contrasted with other characters to show how sizeable he is, but the way Lim depicts his movement and posture portrays how human and caring, not bestial, he is.
And I can’t finish this review without geeking out about panels. God, I’m a sucker for good panels, and Lim’s work with panels and page structure in Mirror so far has been mind-blowing. She shifts effortlessly between conventional page structures and fluid, fractured sequences. The first page opens with a flashback to a ship in distress, and Lim uses the black smoke billowing from the ship as page dividers. Later on, the branches from a tree in the environment are used to separate character reactions. Mirror would be gorgeous even without such creative panel layouts, but with them it’s elevated to another level.
The back-up material in Mirror has also been fantastic thus far, and really helps fill in some of the world’s blanks. Mirror #4 includes more details about the origin of the Guardians, along with a map of the asteroid and an updated timeline.
Mirror #4’s ending sets us up for a clear climax, bringing some characters together and transforming others. Though the story points aren’t always easy to follow, I think it’s an issue well worth rereading, both to gain a better understanding of the story and a further appreciation for the art. Mirror #4 is a rewarding read and another exceptional contribution to Brandon Graham’s 8house universe. I have no idea where the story’s going to go in the next issue, but I can’t wait to find out.
- Gorgeous art and panel layouts
- Satisfying plot progression
- Story might be hard to follow at first