"Thomas Alsop #6" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Chris Miskiewicz
Illustrated by Palle Schmidt
2014, 32 Pages
Comic released on November 12th, 2014
Thomas Alsop is the Hand of the Island of Manhattan. His family has been the sworn protectors of the place for generations, dating back to the 1700's. Thomas is far from the most successful Hand in his bloodline and he's trying to make up for that by performing a mass exorcism of the 3,000 souls stranded at Ground Zero as a result of 9/11. Everyone he encounters on this new mission is hostile towards him because he has the gall to perform one of his "stunts" at such a meaningful place. He means well, even if many New Yorkers think he's full of crap.
The history of the Hand of the Island has been weaving through the issues of Thomas Alsop so far, bouncing from Richard to the title character as the two may go down as the most important folks to ever hold this role. Despite his shortcomings, Thomas really does know what he's doing. He puts on a great show for those around him, including those watching at home on his supernatural TV program, appearing as a drunken oaf. Deep down he has the island's best interests at heart, especially since he found that all those souls are trapped at Ground Zero.
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Writer Chris Miskiewicz has handled the rather taboo topic of 9/11 with great care. The World Trade Center attacks aren't used as a cheap stunt for the sake of sales. Instead, they're treated with respect and become a major plot point of the story. Thomas is affected by the attacks on a very deep and personal level as he has a special connection to the island. 9/11 hit him unlike any other New Yorker and he's still recovering from it ten years later (The comic takes place in 2011.)
This issue has Thomas putting his plan into place, getting the final pieces ready for the mass exorcism. This is becoming increasingly difficult as there is an ever-growing pile of obstacles standing in his way, including Ole Smokey, a ghost that has been haunting the subway for years. This has become a race against time as the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is approaching and that date is carrying a large weight. If he's not able to complete this task by then, bad things will happen. What that is exactly is unclear, but it will have major effects for the island and the rest of the world, as Manhattan is the key to everything. (Spoken like a true New Yorker.)
Palle Schmidt's art brings keeps a great pace with Miskiewicz's story. It is at times terrifying, and somber at others. Thomas stands out specifically, and for good reason. His name is on the front of the comic. You can really see the weight of this responsibility weighing him down. He looks physically exhausted as he's bounced around the city getting the mystical items he needs for the final event and getting thrown out of a moving subway train along the way. There's a scene where he's confronted by some other members of the Alsop family and you can see that he's just about had it when it comes to these kinds of distractions. Why can't everyone just leave him alone and let him do his job? Yes, this seems crazy, but he's got it under control...sort of.
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Schmidt has a different look and feel for the flashback scenes, presenting them in black and white with shades of red. It's a nice effect that complements the time frame. This was an era before cell phones and the Internet. Things were more cut and dry and it shows.
Thomas Alsop has been building up to something big. We're not quite there yet, but the title character has gone through a major transformation in the eyes of the reader. He began as your average spoiled idiot, filled with power that he didn't seem to deserve. Every action he's taken since discovering the trapped souls at Ground Zero has been in an effort to redeem himself for his forefathers and the island itself. Everything is riding on this. If he can fix this, everything will be ok...until the next disaster comes along.