From what I can tell, Alter Ego, the three-issue story originally published by Titan Books in Great Britain in 1991 and then re-published by Piranha Music/DC Comics, is a subtle piece of work. The comic appears to present Prince’s own famously bad self in the frame of a superhero, but it’s unclear whether he has any superhuman powers or anything like that. In effect, it’s the Prince origin story, a la Purple Rain, but with a big superhero-style archenemy plot thrown in. It’s a glib comparison, but writer Dwayne McDuffie and penciler Denys Cowan appear to borrow liberally from the Batman mythos, and in 1991 no name was bigger in the Batman comics world than Frank Miller. (For the record, the lettering was done by Bob Lappan, Noelle Giddings did the coloring, and the covers were by Brian Bolland.)
According to a 2008 post from commenter “robinesque” on the Prince.org message boards, “It is basicly the story from the love symbol album. the princess and the three chains of gold.” In that same thread commenter “jonnymon” summarizes the contents of the three issues:
The 1st to come out is the one with Prince on the motorcycle. It’s basically a comic book history of Prince’s musical career. Best part is at the end where the book says there is a huge rivalry going on between P and MJ, and that they hate each other. Even says that at the end of the Batdance song, Prince is screaming “MICHAEL JACKSON”....when we all know he is saying “DON’T STOP DANCIN’!”
2nd book, with the yellow cloud guitar, has P as a muscian/superhero saving the world from a rival musician called “Spooky Electric” and his mind controlling beats. Best scene here is when Prince steps up to a group of thugs and basically threatens to beat their ass, to which the cowar like dogs. Gotta admit, Jet Lee wishes he had some of the kung fu moves P displays in this book.
Last book is semi-based off of the song “7”. Prince is on tour and must save Princess Mayte from evil-doers that wish to cause her harm. Wish I could remember a scene from this one, but I know P is more James Bond/Jason Bourne than the androgonist rock star we know in this title.
All three are great, and as a side note, I believe the Cloud Guitar cover won an award for the best comic cover for that year. Brian Boland is the artist and really did a great job.
Earlier today James Harvey tweeted several panels from the Alter Ego sequence, which is how I came to hear about it. Here are his tweets in chronological order:
In 1991 DC put out a comic starring Prince in which he stops two gangs from killing each other pic.twitter.com/vGRRz4evgU— James Harvey (@jamesharveytm) September 23, 2015
What I like about this is that everyone, including the cops, is on first-name terms with Prince pic.twitter.com/ardBW8cQaH— James Harvey (@jamesharveytm) September 23, 2015
More after the jump…