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Good news for fans of crime fiction, comic books, and Popverse favorite Alex Segura: Alter Ego, the follow-up to his award-winning novel Secret Identity, is coming later this year… and Popverse has a sneak peak at what to expect, including the book’s cover art.
For those who need a refresher: Secret Identity, published in 2022, is the story of Carmen Valdez, as assistant at a comic book company in the 1970s who helps create their next big thing… and then becomes embroiled in a murder mystery when one of her fellow creators turns up dead. Published by the fine folks at Flatiron Books, the title won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the Mystery/Thriller category, and was also named as one of the mysteries of the year by NPR, Kirk’s, Booklist, and LitReactor. In short, it’s a pretty great read — and, this November, it’s getting a sequel.
"Alter Ego is the other, darker side of the Secret Identity coin: a modern-day thriller set in the comic book and entertainment industry that spotlights the endless struggle between art and commerce through the eyes of a new, modern-day protagonist in Annie Bustamante,” Segura explained to Popverse about the new title. “Annie is pulled back into the industry she left a decade before, tempted by the chance to write and draw the adventures of her favorite superhero — the obscure 1970s character known as the Lynx. But as she begins to work on what she envisioned to be a dream assignment, and starts to learn about the dangerous origins of the Lynx and her creators, she discovers that sometimes getting exactly what you want might be the worst thing you could ever imagine."
Although the book has a contemporary setting, fans of Secret Identity can expect some familiar faces from the first novel — including Carmen Valdez herself — to show up in the new book, even though Alter Ego should be considered a standalone book, rather than a second chapter in an ongoing storyline. The crossover between characters and worlds is nonetheless likely to thrill those who have read both books. "I had a wonderful time creating Annie — who while similar to Carmen in many ways, is also quite different,” Segura teased, saying that Annie is “a bit older, a parent, and haunted by her own past — including personal and generational trauma that's forged her into the hero I hope readers will come to root for."
Like Secret Identity, Alter Ego will feature comic book pages from the world of the book, created by Annie — but in reality, written by Segura and illustrated by Sandy Jarrell, who worked under the pen name Doug Detmer in the earlier book. "Sandy once again proves to me why he's one of the absolute best comic book artists in the business right now — his versatility and deep knowledge of the medium shine through every page, and I cannot wait for people to see the artwork he's created to amplify and expand Annie's — and the Lynx's! — story in Alter Ego,” Segura said. (It’s worth noting that the two creators have already created a Lynx comic book together.)
The official publisher description of Alter Ego runs as follows:
“Annie Bustamante is on top of the world. A cultural force like none other: an acclaimed filmmaker, an Oscar nominee, an author, a comic book artist known for one of the all-time best superhero comics in recent memory. But there’s one thing she’s never been able to tackle: her longtime favorite superhero, The Lethal Lynx. Only known to the most die-hard comics fans and long out of print, the rights were never available. Until now.
“But Annie is skeptical of who is making the offer: Bert Carlyle's father started Triumph Comics, and has long claimed ownership of the Lynx. But Annie suspects otherwise. When she starts getting anonymous messages urging her not to trust anyone, Annie’s inner alarms go off. Even worse? Carlyle wants to pair her with a disgraced filmmaker for a desperate media play.
“Annie, who has been called a genius, a sell-out, a visionary, a hack, and everything else under the sun, is sick of the money grab. For the first time since she started reading a tattered copy of The Legendary Lynx #1 as a kid, she feels a pure, creative spark. The chance to tell a story her way. She's not about to let that go. Even if it means uncovering the dark truth about the character she loves.
“An absolutely gripping thriller that understands that comics are inherently optimistic, aspirational, and intended to represent the best version of us. Sharply written, deftly plotted, and with a palpable affection for all kinds of storytelling, Alter Ego is a one-of-a-kind reading experience.”
Alter Ego will be published November 26, and is available for preorder now. Check out the cover below, designed by David Litman: