LGBTQ COMIC-BOOKS

THE POWER WITHIN

The-Power-Within-Digital-Cover
Shannon gets picked on a lot; his dad and teachers think he should just “fit in” more, but that doesn’t help. So Shannon escapes into a super-powered alter-ego whenever he’s in a bad situation. But will the power within be enough to save him?

Written by Charles “Zan” Christensen and drawn by Mark Brill, this comic was published in Nov. 2013 by Northwest Press, after Christensen and Brill originally created the book during 24-hour Comics Day.

This comic is about a 13 year old gay boy named Shannon, who lives with his father (there’s no mention or appearance of his mother) and is about to start his first day at 8th grade. At school other boys make fun of him and call him names like “sissy.” This is apparently something that has been going on for awhile, because there are references to him have “troubles” the previous year in school. Shannon’s only friend at school is a girl named Katie. But when Katie complains to the principle about the bullies, the principle basically blames Shannon for dressing and acting “different” than the others, saying that if he didn’t just “stand out” so much, the other kids wouldn’t mess with him. This is an attitude Shannon’s father shares, as he also demands that Shannon dress differently than he wants to. We get a montage of Shannon in the cafeteria throughout the week, and each day he gets food thrown at him, which escalates to “accidentally” getting bumped into, until we see him with a black eye and other bruises. It’s pretty rough.

Frequently, when these bullies attack him and taunt him, Shannon fantasizes that he transforms into an adult superhero, who can use his powers to fight back at the bullies. A couple of times Shannon makes eye-contact with another boy in school, and we see Shannon drawing a picture of the boy as a big buff superhero. One day this boy comes to Shannon’s aid when two other boys are picking on him in the bathroom, and Shannon fantasizes about the two of them as a pair of superheroes. Seeing this boy stick up for him is the first thing that gives Shannon some real hope that things will get better. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but let me just say it’s very emotional.

I’m not gay, but I do know what it’s like to get picked on as a kid in school, as such I found myself able to relate to Shannon’s story. Yes, this is a comic-book with a “message,” but I didn’t find it heavy-handed, it just felt real. Christensen and Brill obviously put their hearts into this story, and it shows.

This book also contains a bunch of extra material, some pin-ups by Terry Blas, Dan Parent, Steven Sadowski, & Carla Speed Mcneil. And some short comic-strips. A one-pager called “What Do You Want To Be?” by Donna Barr and Andy Mangels, another (untitled) one-pager by Gail Simone and Phil Jimenez. and two-pager called “Voice” by Greg Rucka and Matthew Clark. All of the contributors did a great job.

Chacebook rating: FIVE STARS

buy it NOW on comixology!

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