Thomas Alsop is the Hand of Manhattan—a protector of the island who gets his power from the island itself. He is the Hand because his father was before him, and so on back through the ages to the earliest European settlers on the island. While Thomas Alsop uses his powers to fund his lifestyle with television shows that most people think are special effects and stunts, the original Hand—also named Thomas Alsop—faces a grave challenge. Flashback to the founding of Manhattan: A slave ship, the London Rose, has arrived heavily covered in black magic. Although Thomas discovers the ship to be cursed and orders it to be destroyed and used as landfill, the curse is not broken. Back in 2001, the attack on the Twin Towers has released many souls and uncovered the remains of the London Rose. Now, the darkness is rising again.
Mickiewicz has written a well-done story about a man who hasn’t really taken his gift seriously and is now facing real evil. Bouncing back and forth between the present and the past, the reader slowly builds a picture of a hidden reality beneath the surface of Manhattan. The Thomas Alsop of the past is kind-of uptight and the Thomas Alsop of the present is a bit self-centered, taking his power for granted. Neither are particularly likeable.
Schmidt accents his ink drawings with washes of watercolor that give great ambiance to this work. Partially inspired by the events of 9/11, one of the most striking scenes is when the present-day Thomas Alsop, who can see spirits, screws up his courage to visit the site of the Twin Towers. The view is from the ground, looking up at thousands of ghosts filling and creating the shape of the towers.
Together, Misckiewicz and Schmidt have written a dark and compelling work. It is intriguing, but not comfortable. The last image, of Thomas leering over the tops of his sunglasses, finally having a plan to deal with the curse, leaves the reader eager for book two.
Thomas Alsop: The Hand of the Island
by Chris Miskiewicz
Art by Palle Schmidt
Boom! Studios, 2015