Created by writer Paul Jenkins, who is a Marvel Comic vet and behind the hit comic series “Origins” which chronicles the early days of Wolverine, Alters features its main character Chalice, a superhero who is transitioning. When Chalice is not presenting as a female hero, she blends into ordinary life as Charlie Young, a male college student whose parents do not yet know that he is transitioning.
“SHE CAN ONLY BE HERSELF WHEN SHE’S NOT HERSELF.”
What truly makes this comic book unique is the fact that our hero has two secret identities, Charlie who presents as male and Chalice the female superhero. As Jenkins puts it, “she can only be herself when she’s not herself.” Chalice is able to manipulate gravity and fly. The plot consists of the Alters, considered possibly mutants (not for their gender identity but their special powers) who are evolving to have unique powers. The Alters are met with fear, distrust, and prejudice as they manifest new, dangerous powers that emerge without warning.
With a world struggling to accept the Alters, Chalice is also struggling with a society that doesn’t yet accept transgender people. She struggles not only with her transition from male to female, but her transition into being an Alter. Her primary antagonist in the comic is a multi-powered fascist known only as Matter Man.
“IF WE EVER GET TO A POINT WHERE ISSUES SUCH AS RACE, SEXUALITY AND GENDER IDENTITY ARE A NONISSUE, WE WILL HAVE ARRIVED.”
Jenkins has been imagining the project since 2005 and he credits his mother, a gay single mom who raised him and his brother in Dorset, England. “If we ever get to a point where issues such as race, sexuality and gender identity are a nonissue, we will have arrived,” he told the New York Times. “That’s my Mum talking right there.”
Alters is one of many projects Jenkins is creating, which will include more diverse characters in society. His goal is to create comics that are not just made to be lessons in morality, but that contain great stories and strong characters that people will like. Alters, from Aftershock Comics, is created by a diverse team, composed of differing genders, gender identities, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations. Credits include Jenkins (Writer), Leila Leiz (Artist), Tamra Bonvillain (colorist), Ryane Hill (Letterer) and Brian Stelfreeze (Regular Cover Artist).