This September, "Hellblazer" scribe Paul Jenkins and artist Leila Leiz will introduce Chalice, a transgender superhero who can manipulate gravity, in their new AfterShock series "Alters." Though the title features a larger network of characters, Chalice will be a central figure in the series.
Speaking to The New York Times, Jenkins recalled how a fan named Liz Luu inspired Chalice, despite the fact that his long-gestating idea for the book had always included a transgender hero; Luu proposed what Jenkins describes as a hero who "can only be herself when she's not herself," in that she hadn't come out to her family yet and could only present as a female when in costume.
Chalice will be one of several characters in the book, which aims to explore heroes who have physical, chemical or mental challenges in addition to their super abilities. For instance, one story will follow a conventionally "unattractive heroine." "The TMZ report would be 'Ugly Chick Saves World,'" Jenkins explained. Another story will follow a quadriplegic shape-shifter who has the choice to remain this way and live or make a permanent shift that will kill them in about a month's time.
"The most important thing in approaching this book is for me to concentrate on these characters as heroes and villains, and to let these things come out during the process," he shared. He described the book as a passion project that he has pursued since 2005 and added that he drew inspiration from gay single mom. "If we ever get to a point where issues such as race, sexuality and gender identity are a nonissue, we will have arrived," he said. "That's my Mum talking right there."