Alters #9 Review: An Endearing and Diverse Cast of Heroes

Alters #9
8.5 / 10 Reviewer
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Summary
Writer: Paul Jenkins, Artist: Leila Leiz, Color Artist: Leonardo Paciarotti, Letters: Ryane Hill, Cover by: Leila Leiz and Leonardo Paciarotti, Logo Designer: John J. Hill, Production: Charles Pritchett, Editor: Mike Marts, Creative Character Consultant: Liz Luu, Special Thanks: Maeve Baruk, Publisher: Aftershock, Release Date: January 10th, 2018, Price: $3.99

Chalice copes with what’s happened to Morph as we see her tell her friend Darren about her transition. Then the Alters give their plan to Sharise on how they plan to get her son back. Then they put that plan into action.

Alters #9 cover by Leila Leiz and Leonardo Paciarotti
Alters #9 cover by Leila Leiz and Leonardo Paciarotti

Needless to say, I’m all about Alters from the outset. Transgendered superhero joined by a diverse team of allies—yeah, I’m on board immediately.

Of course, you can have all of that, but the comic still needs to be good to seal the deal and get my recommendation.

Thankfully, Alters succeeds in that regard too. Chalice, Morph, Sharise, and the rest of the cast won my heart very quickly. Chalice is the beleaguered hero trying to keep the team moving while barely holding herself together due to the tragedy of what’s happening to Morph. Morph himself is a cool character with a really unique design. Sharise is the endlessly endearing momma bear who will do anything to get her son back safely.

I’d have more to say about the remainder of the Alters, but they don’t get much of the spotlight this issue, which is my first excursion into the series.

The conversation between Chalice and Darren is really sweet too. Darren is taken aback by Charlie’s transition, but the two still manage to bond. They’re still best friends, even siblings. The dialogue is really good with some shaky spots— “Brother from a black mother” is a little corny, even if it’s intended to be so.

The action sequence at the end has high stakes and emotional weight, so you can’t help but be invested in the outcome. You want Sharise and her son to be reunited. You want Morph to be able to save the day since that’s what is pushing him forward despite his health. It works because it’s visceral; giving something for the reader to care about in the midst of a conflict is everything. Paul Jenkins has made something special here.

Leila Leiz’s artwork is quite solid for much of the comic. I love the design of Chalice’s costume and Morph’s body. The villains have distinct and interesting looks too. The faces are where things can get a little shaky. They’re a little too shine at times when they’re facing towards the panel. There is a little bit of uncanny valley going on in the details. However, the rest of the comic still looks great, and the odd faces don’t sink the otherwise good visual design.

Leonardo Paciarotti’s colorwork is great, steering everything around purple shades, which really works for a nice atmosphere.

Alters #9 got me to fall in love with it very quickly. It has a diverse cast of endearing characters, it keeps things emotionally grounded, and it’s fairly different from the common superhero fair. You bet your ass this one gets a recommendation. Check it out. Do it. I’m watching you.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.