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Review: Alters #1

alters-1Issue #1 of wrier Paul Jenkin‘s Alters starts off like every other comic book origin story. At least that’s what I thought I was getting myself into. Another origin story, with super villains, super heroes and those with powers who refuse to join the penultimate battle. The cover art lead me to believe that I was in in for a fun little side step along the lines of Powers, Misfits or Gotham the TV show. I was wrong.

Alters is way more than just your average super powered human origin story because Chalice, is way more than your typical super-powered human. Chalice has recently come into her powers and she’s not quite sure what to do with them yet. She’s still trying to figure out how to use them. Her first go at flying took her from her hometown of Cleveland to NYC where she crashed into a wall. Chalice uses all of the teenage snark that you’d expect from a super powered human who’s just discovered she can do what she wants. There’s something refreshing about her honesty. She openly admits all that she doesn’t know about her powers. She laments about how no on does it right the first time. She’s real.

Chalice uses all of the teenage snark that you’d expect from a super powered human who’s just discovered she can do what she wants. There’s something refreshing about her honesty. She openly admits all that she doesn’t know about her powers. She laments about how no on does it right the first time. She’s real.In Chalice’s world, being a human with powers is still very rare and not exactly the best thing because one of the supers “Matter Man” went rogue and is pretty much holding the US hostage because he’s unstoppable. He’s forcing all Alters who come into their powers to report directly to him. If the don’t he throws a temper tantrum and goes on a destructive rampage.

In Chalice’s world, being a human with powers is still very rare and not exactly the best thing because one of the supers “Matter Man” went rogue and is pretty much holding the US hostage because he’s unstoppable. He’s forcing all Alters who come into their powers to report directly to him. If the don’t he throws a temper tantrum and goes on a destructive rampage. Chalice is discovered by a group of Alters who are standing against Matter Man and they try to recruit Chalice during her fall from grace , building bounce during her flight to NYC. Alters is extremely well written and with just this aspect of the story alone, Alters could have been a huge hit, maybe even a TV show or movie. But, Paul Jenkins doesn’t rest on the typical story, or the comedy flair campy version of a person with powers. Paul takes it a step further. Our sassy and brave superhero in the making isn’t just a cis-girl, she’s transgender. This isn’t a review on that aspect, that’s for others to weigh in on and Jenkins has said he has consulted with and talked to transgender individuals to get things right.

It’s a bold choice and it plays very well into the story as the series seems to be focusing on identity as a whole. The revelation of Chalice’s gender identity doesn’t feel like a gimmick, it was a thought out decision that’s an important aspect of the story and adds a level of depth. The tone of the story and of Chalice’s identity adds a layer to her and, her struggles aren’t written for sensationalism, they’re written as life. It feels like there’s so much realism in Chalice’s hiding who she is from those in her real life when she’s out of the mask. You can feel her pain and longing for acceptance. She’s a real person with feelings who’s going through some very real things and the compassion and care that Jenkins takes to developing this character is amazing.

Often in media we see sexuality and gender identity used heavyhandedly to sensationalize or add a shock factor to a story, in Alters it seems organic. You can feel every emotion that the hiding of who she is causes her. You cringe at the deceptions she has to engage at to keep herself safe & the people she loves in the dark. Despite how strong she is, you find yourself wanting to reach through the pages, hug her and, tell her it’s going to be alright. Chalice seems like a real person, which is a testament to the great story and brilliant writing in this series.

Story: Paul Jenkins Art: Leila Leiz
Story: 8.9 Art: 8.3 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Aftershock Comics provided a FREE copy to Graphic Policy for review