With transgender heroine, a comic book breaks new ground

What do you do when Planet Earth is threatened by a deranged supervillain? The creative minds at AfterShock, a comic book publisher, have an answer: You enlist Chalice, the first transgender protagonist of a comic series, to help defeat the forces of evil.

Chalice inhabits Alters, Aftershock’s new series that features characters as diverse as the series’ creators. In Chalice’s world, a new type of mutant — Alterations, or Alters — is emerging with superpowers that appear without warning, and Chalice discovers she’s an Alter while transitioning from male to female.

Other Alters emerge, too. One is coping with cerebral palsy, another is homeless, and a third struggles with depression. They, like Chalice, are met initially with fear, distrust and prejudice, even as they employ their new powers against evil.

Comic book panels showing transgender superhero (Courtesy of Aftershock Comics)
A page from the Alters comic book series (Courtesy image)

In a recent Huffington Post interview, Tamra Bonvillain, the colorist for Alters, and the series’ writer, Paul Jenkins, talk about the series’ message for readers.

Bonvillain, who is transgender, underscores the publisher’s commitment to diversity in its storytelling and its hiring.

“I think it’s important to see yourself reflected in media, and for trans people, we so rarely do,” she says. “I also believe having more and more examples of trans people begins to normalize the concept to people in general.”