Under the publication of Image Comics, artist Emma Ríos has been successful, from collaborating with Kelly Sue DeConnick on Pretty Deadly to co-editing alongside Brandon Graham on the monthly comics anthology Island. However, taking on writing duties whilst collaborating with Malaysian artist Hwei Lim on the science-fantasy comic Mirror, the first volume became a shallow experience with great art, but a confusing story. With this second volume, which concludes said confusing story, history seems to repeat itself.
As the survivors of the colony leave the Irzah asteroid for good and retrace their steps home, they hope to return to the utopian dreamlands of the Synchronia, even if there is no joyous homecoming for them, nor for the sentient animals they’ve created. Half a century ago, the young artist Ninua, living in the Synchronia, awakens from its long, deep sleep, in the stones of a primitive ruin.
Based on the above synopsis, you essentially have two storylines, each one set in a different time frame, slowly colliding towards each other. It’s only when you reach the final issue where you get the sense that the story is going somewhere, but until then, there are so many moving parts, a lot of which still aren’t given a full explanation unless you have the pages at the end of the book explaining the Synchronia and all its inner-workings. Suffering from an issue that Tolkien suffered from, you get the sense that the two creators came up with the world and the funny names first before the story and its characters.
Opening this volume with a new youthful character, there is the potential of showing her artistic ambitions as well as how living in the Synchronia adds a different perspective than living in the Irzah asteroid. Halfway through, we see what happens with the Irzah survivors and what they’re trying to do without a home. And yet, all ten issues of Mirror are cramming in too much, in terms of characters, races and settings. Add to the mix the story’s time-jumps, and you can’t find any emotional engagement with anyone on the page.
Given the comic’s abstract nature, one can also blame Hwei Lim’s art for contributing to the confusion. Thankfully, Lim’s art makes Mirror a thing of beauty, with her soft, painterly style and original approach to character design. Every page delivers something new in terms of coloring and panel layouts.
After reading all ten issues of this limited series, despite the great art by Hwei Lim, Emma Ríos’ storytelling and characterization are sorely lacking.