THE CHAIR #3 by Peter Simeti and Kevin Christensen
THE CHAIR #3 is a subversive and shocking issue that wildly and perfectly mixes up the previous issues' prime elements.
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Big Changes for the Miniseries
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Previous issues of Alterna Comics’ THE CHAIR succeeded as a morose psychological exploration of a man on death row. However, now, in issue #3, writer Peter Simeti and artist Kevin Christensen subvert everything that readers have come to expect. As a result, the story transitions from an introspective, moody narrative to a full-on psychological thriller — and it is exceptional. By kicking the legs out from under us, this issue almost feels like a new beginning. I did not see this twist in both plot and style coming. THE CHAIR #3 had me gleefully reading through it multiple times, wondering “Did this really happen?”

THE CHAIR #2 REVIEW: Tortured Souls

THE CHAIR #2 left Sullivan, our protagonist and convicted murderer, waiting on his appointment with the electric chair. The sadistic Warden is breathing down his neck, salivating at the opportunity to end it all for Sullivan. Like in previous chapters, I expected this issue to feature some more introspective self-loathing from Sullivan, followed by his attempts at escape. Boy, was I wrong.

Waiting on the Electric Chair

With one flashback sequence, our entire perspective on Sullivan and the prison changes. After this reveal, the comic devolves into a showcase of what life is actually like in the prison. Simeti pulls up the veil and readers can see the Warden and the prison’s real plans for Sullivan. This issue is essentially an objective tour of a supposedly twisted prison that we have only ever seen from Sullivan’s subjective POV.

THE CHAIR #3. Image courtesy of Alterna Comics.

Simeti’s previous issues featured cryptic dialogue and were mostly driven by brief flashbacks to fragmented memories. Before, readers were forced to pick up these disparate pieces and attempt to form a cogent story. However, in THE CHAIR #3, Simeti adopts a clear and concise approach to the narrative and dialogue.

Previous issues were scattered and featured a less linear plot. Simeti’s former style was more reminiscent of a sprawling diary; THE CHAIR was a subjective slice of life in the prison from Sullivan’s perspective. Now, THE CHAIR is framed as more of a traditional narrative telling Sullivan’s story, rather than Sullivan telling it to us. As a reader, I found this change in approach unnerving — and perfect for a creepy book like this. When readers compare the muddy, frantic vibe of the previous issues to the lucidity in this one, they will have a greater appreciation for the series as a whole. Now, by changing styles, Simeti hammers in the impact of the story’s dynamic plot twist.

Who are these People?

As our perceptions of reality inside the prison change, so do our characters. The Warden and Sullivan are now almost unrecognizable. Simeti sprinkles in a few clues and callbacks that work to juxtapose our previous perceptions of these characters and what is true. In truth, vacillating between character traits can seem like a headache at some points. At the beginning of this issue, I found myself slightly confused. However, this only served to heighten the psychological impact of its eventual reveals. Simeti doesn’t just wreak havoc and uncertainty onto the minds of the characters, but also the reader.

Meet Alterna Founder and THE CHAIR Writer, Peter Simeti

Seeing Clearly

Overall, much of the effective duality between the plot and character changes stems from Christensen’s art. Previously, the art was scratchy and impressionistic. Now, in THE CHAIR #3, Christensen’s art takes a more conventional approach. The art may still be black and white, yet the figures, backgrounds, and positioning of characters are much clearer. Now, there is more free blank space, and the panels are cleaner. All of these choices serve to show the reader that this is the real world. It is a stark contrast to previous issues, and while the art is obviously not as exciting or emotional, it does perfectly serve the story.

THE CHAIR #3. Image courtesy of Alterna Comics.

Final Thoughts on THE CHAIR #3

Overall, THE CHAIR #3 mixes up the series in the best way possible. This is an eerie, twisty, and surprising issue that switches up the art, characterization, narrative style. Now with only one issue left in this miniseries, it will be a treat to see how Peter Simeti and Kevin Christensen decide to close out this shifting comic.

If you are interested in reading THE CHAIR #3, then make sure to get it when it hits newsstands October 25th. You can order the comic here

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