September sees the release of a new comic book series set to feature a transgender lead character named Chalice, one of the first in comic books.
‘Alters’ is a new series being released by Aftershock Comics and will focus on several characters who are the first in a wave of emerging mutant powered superheroes. Whilst initially sounding similar to Marvel Comics ‘X-Men’, which has often been used as an allegory for people in oppressed communities, ‘Alters’ fully embraces this notion with an incredibly varied and multifaceted cast.
Chalice, the central character of the series, is a transgender woman with the ability to manipulate gravity, which she can even use to fly. The series writer, Paul Jenkins, has credited fan Liz Luu for the inspiration for the character when she suggested a hero who ‘can only be herself when she’s not herself’.
This led to the creation of the character of Chalice, a trans woman who is not out to her friends or family, meaning that she has to present as male in her civilian life and can only truly be herself when she’s being a superhero.
The series will also feature characters from a variety of backgrounds and with a wide range of issues. One story will feature a conventionally ‘unattractive heroine’. ‘The TMZ report’ would be ‘Ugly Chick Saves World” Jenkins described.
Another story will focus on a superhero shapeshifter who is injured and left as a quadriplegic, who faces the choice of whether to remain that way and live or to go through one final transformation to regain their ability to walk but will lead to their death after a month.
Jenkins also plans to include a homeless woman who has to try to balance keeping her family fed and clothed whilst also saving her community, along with a man with PTSD yet is still committed to helping others.
The series has been a passion project for Jenkins, who has been working on the concept since 2005. Jenkins has drawn inspiration from many people he has known in his life, not least his mother, who raised him as an out bisexual single mother.
‘If we ever get to the point where issues such as race, sexuality and gender identity are a nonissue, we will have arrived. That’s my mum talking right there.’ He said. ‘I just want to share my compassion for people who are struggling in any kind of way.’
‘Alters’ is set for release by After Shock Comics early September 2016.