There an interesting article in the New York Times about Alters, a new comic from AfterShock Comics by Paul Jenkins, Leila Leiz, Brian Stelfreeze, and Tamra Bonvillain, that is said to contain the “first transgender superhero.”
From the article:
Chalice is a new superhero who can manipulate gravity so that she can fly. Chalice is also Charlie Young, a male college student, who, unbeknown to his family, is beginning to transition to female. Unlike most superheroes, who have to maintain one secret identity, Chalice has two.
Here is the solicit text:
writer: Paul Jenkins
artist: Leila Leiz
cover: Brian Stelreeze
From a diverse team of creators composed of differing genders, gender identities, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations comes a groundbreaking new series featuring the world’s first transgender superhero!
As the world struggles to accept the emergence of a new kind of mutant species known as alterations, or “Alters,” a young woman begins her transition from male to female only to find herself also transitioning into a powerful Alter. Faced with persecution by the multi-powered fascist known only as Matter Man, she will face the world as Chalice–a hero for a new age. But as Chalice navigates the path to becoming her true self, she must juggle the complications of her civilian life and the responsibilities of her newfound power.
This groundbreaking series–years in the making–begins the saga of a young woman who can only really be herself…whenever she is not herself.
32pgs, FC $3.99
Technically, however, while this states that this is the “the world’s first transgender superhero,” it doesn’t seem to be counting Coagula from Rachel Pollack’s Doom Patrol or the Alysia Yeoh Batgirl from Margueritte Bennett’s DC Bombshells series.
However, the reason for the inclusion of the character is interesting:
Mr. Jenkins said that he had always planned for a transgender superhero in the series, but Chalice didn’t fully take shape until he met a fan, Liz Luu, in 2014, at a convention panel about creating characters. Ms. Luu had an appealing idea: a transgender hero who hadn’t transitioned yet and could present as a female only when in costume.
“She can only be herself when she’s not herself” is how Mr. Jenkins summarized her. In exchange for mentoring Ms. Luu, who is now an executive assistant at the Cartoon Network, Mr. Jenkins incorporated that idea into Chalice’s back story.
The makeup of the creative team is also interesting for how diverse it is:
Brian Stelfreeze, who is black and is currently drawing Marvel’s Black Panther series written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, will provide covers; Leila Leiz is handling the interior pages; and Tamra Bonvillain, who is transgender, is the colorist. As for the writer, Mr. Jenkins, he joked: “I have the heterosexual middle-aged man locked up.”
Alters should be coming out from AfterShock in September.