Thursday, September 15, 2016

Alters #1

 It took some time figuring out just what I wanted to start with as I began writing about comicbooks again.  My comic shop provided the subject as I caught up on tweets and then made it to the shop to pick up my books.  I live in North Carolina.  The place where our "oh so brilliant" Republican controlled Legislature and Governor's office thought using Transgender people as political pawns would be great for our economy and standing in the United States and Global community.  The passage of the so-called "bathroom bill" or HB2 has been a blight on those of us that feel this is just a hate filled attempt to win favor with the extreme parts of a political base and donors.  I have felt powerless as I watched my State be viewed as a place of hate.  The owner of my shop was tired of this opinion as well and did something about it in the only way a comicbook person would, through art.  Ssalefish Comics commissioned an exclusive cover for the first issue of Alters, which stars a realistic transitioning superhero.  Chalice is a real T-Girl, not a comicbook version of a fantasy girl that is being called Transgendered.

There will be two parts to this review of Alters #1.  A general report and info on the way my shop is raising money for those fighting the hate in my State and a SPOILER review where I just discuss what I thought and not worry about giving some things away.

It is very scary sometimes to dive into a new book.  Hesitation can come about when you are not dealing with the familiar companies.  I might have missed this book had Ssalefish not done the cover for it.  I come into this with my own liberal, christian, and researched opinions.  What probably caused some to tune out is the Christian label I used, but when you work as a minister you have that area in you.  Plus, I know that as I continue down the path I am own, I will probably encounter a transgender youth that will need me to be ready to show the love and compassion they might not see from my peers.  It was with those eyes I read Alters #1

The opening is wonderfully done.  It gives us a history of Alters and provides a viewpoint from a new person to this group.  Then as you adjust to the fact that this is a new person of power in the world the other shoe drops.  The girl you saw was a guy.  There is the twist that is so relevant for today.  We the reader learn that Charlie has two secrets and one has a ticking clock.  Charlie is undergoing transitioning to become the gender he should have been at birth.  The changes will begin to show more and more until eventually she will have to tell her family.  This double secret works so well for the story we get in these pages.  

Charlie, aka. Chalice, is a very family oriented person.  I guess that the brother with cerebral palsy is older.  The younger brother is a perfect brat who fits in well with the average Dad that is shown.  A normal looking and sounding Mom rounds out the family and it really stresses the fear that Charlie has as to the reaction they will have to her transitioning.

We get a formidable baddie and a group of resistance heroes that might fit well into a Quantum and Woody story to round out this great beginning of a comicbook.  It has such promise in the emotions it is setting up.  The art is also just right.  Upon rereading and slowly digesting the book, I noticed how Chalice was not over done as a female figure.  Straighter curves and just enough of a lean body type as to give some reality to the person that is there on the page.  Leila Leiz did a great job with the designs.

Ssalefish Comics will have Paul Jenkins in house Saturday, September 17th for a signing.  The sales of Alters #1 will provide 10% of the profits to Equality NC.  This is a way to support those that are being bullied in NC.  If you can come out Saturday Noon til 3 PM.  If not order through the store's online capabilities.


So now I can put some other thoughts down.  This book does not focus so much on the super powers as on the character of Charlie.  I am sure the action and explosions will come, but to start we get a look at the hero.  This is a great way to begin.  I loved the "Dear Diary" part of the storytelling.  It allowed for the art to show Charlie in natural settings.  The fact that Teddy, the brother with cerebral palsy is sitting beside Charlie in the dinner as she writes is great.  You get the feeling Teddy knows the secret maybe.  The average and natural aspects of the family work so well.  They seem nice, but like Charlie, you wonder how they might react to the news of Charlie as daughter and sister.  You really get a sense of the person that is this bubbly girl when out as Chalice.  There is a sense of realness here that really comes out.  

I sense that the murder of an innocent man is what prompts Chalice to seek out the Alters who oppose Matter Man, the big bad of this book.  It is easy to see that Chalice wants to just enjoy the freedom her powers bring.  What happens because she thinks she can just be out there and not allow Matter Man his control is part of her hero journey.

This is a very great book.