Alters are people who have developed superpowers. They were seen as good people until some started going bad. Octavian is a good guy, trying to help all the Alters in the world become good people. Matter Man, on the other hand, aims to eliminate all Alters or have them work for him. Recently, a new Alter has arisen. Her name is Chalice. A young boy named Charlie hasn’t told anyone, but he is actually a woman. This transgender beauty is Chalice, but no one knows. After she turns down Octavian’s offer for help developing her powers, Matter Man threatens the world. So, it looks like she needs that help after all.
Writer Paul Jenkins crafts a smooth, linear, and very entertaining script. The pacing is good, and the content is a great introduction to the series. It sets up the story in such a way that we are not only entertained but genuinely interested.
There are a few reasons as to why we are so drawn to this issue. One of the biggest, though, is the fact that Chalice is just a normal person. She isn’t represented as some untouchable hero, but a regular person—a normal kid (Charlie) with normal problems (trouble coming out to his parents). When something is shown as relatable as this, readers are much more likely to pay attention because they can apply it to their own lives.
The only issue is that it seems like Aftershock is pushing the “transgender superhero” so much that it becomes a little less enjoyable for us readers. Chalice and her mum are nearly the only women in the story, which seems a little too focused for me. Aside from Chalice, Charlie is a boy at the moment. If we start seeing hormonal changes and redistribution of fat as per the HRT (hormone replacement therapy), I’ll be more impressed. Even though it’s unnaturally emphasized, I still seem to want the best for Charlie and Chalice.
Artist Leila Leiz uses very clean lines to pencil this issue. Her character designs show a lot of versatility and imagination. Each character brings a unique aesthetic to the issue, making it really interested to look at as well as read.
Octavian looks like a straight up hipster. Shaved sides, hair gelled on top, black thick rim glasses, moustache curled up at both ends, thick sideburns, black and green checkered scarf—the whole shebang.
Matter Man is kind of a stylish pretty boy. Curly hair (also shorter on the sides), lots of piercings, boots, classy coat on top of a regular striped shirt, long nails, and what kind of looks like eyeliner.
I’m sure Chalice’s face paint is supposed to be a new-age, modern design, but it comes off looking like a cross. There has been virtually no hint of religion in this issue, so I’m not sold on that face paint. Her makeup, though, looks deep, dark, mysterious, and gorgeous. For someone who just started HRT, Chalice makes on Hell of a woman—very believable…which makes no sense for the point where Charlie is in his transition.
Along with Tamra Bonvillain’s realistic colors, Leiz is able to deliver artwork that not only looks good, but also tells the story very well. We are able to see the progression and movement of the story clearly from one panel to the next.
The creative team has done a great job on the first issue of this series. This is a good start to Aftershock’s own universe of superhero comics. The blunt and forcefulness of LGBTQ association is a little awkward, but I appreciate it nonetheless. After all, there should be a place for that discussion in mainstream comics.
Written by: Paul Jenkins
Illustrated by: Leila Leiz