Mirror #1 begins a story of colonization, animals with human qualities, and a mixture of science, magic, and politics. Emma Rios and Hwei Lim give Mirror #1 confidence. Confident stories don’t rush to explain, defend or demonstrate. They trust that we will see the whole picture before we lose patience. They trust in their own ability to give us the information in the order we’ll need it. There’s a lot going on, but we’ll get there. And we can latch on emotionally from the first pages.
There are two main things to grab hold of in Mirror #1. First, the dog-girl Sena and the mage Ivan loved each other as children and now they aren’t even friends. Sena’s dogness makes this undone loyalty cut to the quick. A flurry of scenes give us a glimpse of catastrophe in their adolescence. A phrase rings out twice, first as a threat: “I’ll turn invisible and run away.” Then, a plea: “Turn invisible and run away!”
The second thing to latch on to is that the little rat-woman Zun has to be brave and take on hard and dangerous tasks for the greater good.
Hwei Lim’s watercolors underwrite the floating, trusting confidence of Mirror. She gives us circus imagery and sadness. Softness and primary colors. The love of a boy for his dog against a sterile backdrop of cages and lab gear. Strong black lines that are rounded, incomplete, floating in white space and washes of color.
Lim’s figures have the quickness of costume designs–unassuming, economical, fluid. Then the figures speak and Rios nails us to the wall with clean, simple dialogue.