"Thomas Alsop #8" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Chris Miskiewicz
Illustrated by Palle Schmidt
2014, 32 Pages
Comic released on January 14th, 2015
Thomas Alsop has been a TV star, a pop culture icon, and a total screw up. Most importantly, he's the current Hand of the Island of Manhattan, protecting it from any and all supernatural phenomenon. Now he's faced with his biggest challenge yet, and certainly something that none of his forefathers had to deal with. He has to exorcise the 3,000 souls trapped at Ground Zero as a result of the 9/11 attacks. No pressure.
Everything in Thomas Alsop has been building up to this moment. He may have originally come across as aloof and a complete buffoon, but he's shown that he has a crafty mind under that gruff exterior. He's been planning this mass exorcism for some time and everything is in place to finally complete it. What's most interesting in this finale is how quickly writer Chris Miskiewicz gets to the task at hand...and then pulls the rug out from under you. That's right, folks. After eight issues, the big reveal isn't how Thomas Alsop accomplishes the exorcism, it's what happens next.
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Miskiewicz pulls off a twist that would make his title character proud. It's something I didn't see coming at all and it immediately changes the scope of the entire series. It will make you want to go back and re-read it from beginning to end with a new set of eyes. It also completes Thomas' transformation from a mischievous bad boy to a broken man seeking redemption and closure. At first you might have hated him, but by the end of this issue you just want to hug him.
The subject of 9/11 is still rather taboo. It's been 13 years since the tragic event, so the wound is not yet fully healed. Miskiewicz handles this with care. The reactions you see in the comic are genuine. Some people call Thomas a monster and a terrorist for even coming near this sacred area with his hocus pocus. Those are the folks that post angry shit on Facebook, but don't actually do anything about the things they claim to be offended by. Then there are the others that were personally affected by the attacks, who lost a friend or loved one that day. They look to him with tears in their eyes, asking "Did it work?" Did this man help these lost souls finally find peace? That's what is really important here.
Artist Palle Schmidt pulls Thomas along for the whole ride. What's amazing is how much the character changes even within this issue. He goes from an exhausted magician preparing his final big trick, to the magnificent showman getting the crowd into an uproar before the spectacle begins, to finally, a sad, husk of a man coming to grips with his own personal tragedy for the first time. All of that can be seen on Thomas' face throughout the book with some powerful images.
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Speaking of which, the crowd before and after the exorcism is exactly what you'd expect. They're furious and jumping for joy and in a general frenzy. Basically, they're New Yorkers. There's also a great panel that mimics a major historical photograph that's a nice touch to the series and really cements Thomas Alsop's place as an important figure in this fictional world.
Thomas Alsop has been an emotional journey that has shown a man going through a true transformation and finding purpose in his life for perhaps the first time. Writer Chris Miskiewicz has a real talent for character development, as he took someone that I practically hated in the first couple issues and changed him into someone that I can really empathize with and even root for. He also uncovered a secret supernatural history of New York City that I hope to see explored further in future stories.