The final issue of the first arc, this extra-long issue of Mirror brings the story to a satisfying conclusion, although it leaves several of the central mysteries intact. Emma Rios has written a story less about revealing the secrets of the world, and more about following the emotional development of these characters.
The credits page of Mirror #5 offers a brief refresher on all the characters and their stories in a few short sentences:
A rat seeks approval.
A mage longs for courage.
A dog wishes to rest.
A shadow urges for matter.
A minotaur looks for a reflection.
A scientist hopes for redemption.
An admiral begs to have chosen wisely.
An asteroid is eager to be reborn anew.
I found this blurb really helpful, since Mirror’s story hasn’t always been the easiest to follow, and I kept coming back to it while I read. As readers, I think part of our satisfaction in a story comes from watching characters change and grow over the course of an arc. In this regard, Mirror #5 succeeds gracefully. It offers major and minor resolutions for most characters. We get to see how the years of living in the Outsider’s dreams have affected Kazbek, and how constant rebellion and conflict have changed and matured the dog-human hybrid, Sena. Most satisfying is the way the sentient asteroid’s threat affects the relationship between the humans of the colony and the hybrids.
Mirror #5 opens with another flashback, a peek into the character of Elena, the admiral. Previous issues haven’t delved much into her personality, but this glimpse fleshes out her morals and motivations, adding weight and context to her actions later in the issue. It’s also a chance to see a little more of this world and its power structures. I know this takes place in the wider 8house universe, but I haven’t read the other titles yet. I’d love to see if the factions mentioned here, like the Guild and the Elders, are explored by other writers.
Rios adds further characterization through the dialogue, imbuing each character with a unique voice. Elena delivers statements brusquely, without doubt . With other characters, you can see them change through their speech. Aldebaran, the minotaur, starts off curt and speaks little, but softens and shows more of himself as he spends more time with the other hybrids. Occasionally Rios drifts into jargon, but the context usually clears up any confusion.
It’s hard not to feel moved by the final pages of Mirror #5, especially rendered in the gorgeous watercolors of Hwei Lim. This universe might be a strange place full of magic, human-animal hybrids, and sentient space rocks, but it’s grounded by very human, relatable emotions, and Lim captures those beautifully in detailed expressions and body language. I think her work is still a perfect fit for this fantastical story, although the panel layouts are mostly straightforward, without any strong examples of the jaw-dropping ones earlier in the series.
Mirror #5 is a must-read if you’ve been following the series, wrapping up enough at the end of this first arc to leave you satisfied. If you’re new to the series, skip this issue but pick up the trade when it comes out in September, and start following along when the second arc begins in November or December. It’s an amazing story, and I think the turns will be easier to follow in a trade than single issues.
- Emotionally satisfying conclusions for characters
- Hwei Lim’s amazing art
- Less imaginative panels than earlier issues