Metaphase, which went to a second printing already, was inspired by creator Chip Reece’s son Ollie. Chip wanted to create something unique, and special for his son, who has Down syndrome. “METAPHASE is a prime example of how important comic books and graphic novels are. The heart of the story is a universal one, it’s about wanting to achieve something and do something important with your life,” says Alterna publisher Peter Simeti, who also lettered the graphic novel, “we all have hopes, dreams, and aspirations — everyone’s had obstacles in their life — but it’s what you do to overcome those obstacles; that’s what makes a hero. In the story, and in real life, Ollie is a hero.”
As you may have already guessed Metaphase is about Ollie, a boy with Down syndrome, who looks up to his superhero dad and wants to be just like him. Like any good father, Sentinel wants to protect his son and keep him out of danger. After an encounter with a villain with an insect affinity Sentinel sees what we must assume is a rare failure in capturing the bad guy and saving the public. Ollie sees a commercial for a company that can create meta-humans, people with powers, and may have a way to make his wish come true.
The story created by Reece, and the reason for it, is touching. It’s very much a father/son tale, both struggling with the unavoidable human emotions regarding the circumstances of their lives. Ollie desperately wants to follow in his father’s footsteps, and doesn’t understand why that may not be possible. It is a unique way of looking at this situation through the lens of someone with super powers whose child didn’t inherit those gifts. Sentinel (real name unknown) loves his son and wants to protect him from the dangers of what being a superhero means. This very much mirrors a parent’s desire to protect their kids. I can only imagine that this also mirror’s the real life challenges faced by Chip and Ollie themselves. Ollie is determined though, and that determination may lead to even more danger than either of them anticipate. I’ll have to see in the next issue just what that is. Without a doubt this is a work of love from a father to his son. The only thing I found odd was that after the first few panels there’s no sign of mom. I got the impression, probably incorrectly, that Sentinel and Ollie live on their own.
The dialogue in the story is good, with only a couple of panels that didn’t shine. The conversation between Ollie and his father was probably the best, which isn’t a surprise. As a father myself I could relate to those panels quite easily. The dialogue from the villain was over the top, and it seemed intentionally so. The bad guy was clearly trying too hard, which is made obvious in the text. Overall the writing is reminiscent of old hero stories or cartoons, where the square-jawed hero thrust out his chest and announced his arrival to a villain who chewed scenery with his over-acting. I think this was the intent, and it was fun to read.
Kelly Williams’ art was fantastic, and the colors lent themselves well to the book. It had an old-school feel to it and I could see this book looking very good in Alterna’s newsprint line. There’s a unique style to the art that enhances the story rather than distracts from it by trying to outshine. Action panels convey movement very well, and overall it’s an attractive book to flip through.
This is a great book for kids and adults alike. It would be a good read for just about anyone that likes family stories as well as super heroes. Children would love this book as well, since it is literally about a child’s fantasy to become a super hero. The book went into second print like I said, so should be available still. The second issue releases this August.