For the most part, comic books have always kept relatively quiet in a self-contained corner of the entertainment landscape. It’s one of the most inclusive forms of media, dating back to the original X-Men being one big allegory for minorities of all kinds, looked down upon by society and forced to live as second class citizens.
Now, living in the most socially progressive age to date, comic books have flourished, their ever-present trend of inclusion benefiting from the change in global tone regarding the LGBT community, people of color, and other historically underappreciated groups.
In Alters, the first-ever superhero book with a central transgender protagonist by a mainstream writer (Paul Jenkins), a young woman, while transitioning from male to female, discovers she has great power. Now, faced with the discrimination transgender people face on top of that those with mutant-like powers face, life becomes doubly complicated.
The diversity in Alters is also found off the pages, in the team behind creating its main character, Chalice. “It means a lot to me to see trans people represented, especially so prominently,” said Tamra Bonnvillain, a trans colorist for Alters. “So many times in the past we’ve been represented as throwaway characters, and even a lot of more recent positive trans characters are in minor roles.”
Bonnvillain, who, as a colorist, helps breathe life into comics and give them the polished look everyone is so used to seeing, was approached specifically to work on Alters for being a trans woman herself. “I do want to work on books representing LGBT people, trans people particularly, so when the opportunity arises, I try to take advantage of that,” she said.
Alters #1 goes on sale September 7 from Aftershock Comics.