In Review: Alters #8

A reluctant alter is forced to choose a side for those who have abilities.

The cover: Latavius has a hand over this mouth, preventing him from crying out to his mother Sharise. He’s unintentionally become a bargaining chip for the Anarchists who used to work for Matter Man. This is the perfect image to introduce this issue as it’s the image that closed the previous issue. It begins this issue and instantly reminds the reader the danger Sharise and her family are now in. This frontpiece comes courtesy of interior artist Leila Leiz and interior colorist Leonardo Paciarotti. Overall grade: A

The story: Sharise is told in the deluge that can get her boys back if she agrees to work with the Anarchists, the remaining members of Matter Man’s team. She realizes that she can do nothing to save her children if they’re so far from her, so Sharise agrees to do what the criminals ask. Once the boys are in her arms she opens a pocket mirror to use her teleporting skills. Unfortunately she loses Latavius to Cottonmouth before she can escape. Paul Jenkins has built this family up so well it’s a truly heartbreaking moment. He continues the heartbreak as he moves to Chalice who’s visiting a friend. This person has some strong, though softly said, words for her that forces her to continue to wallow in guilt. The only thing that stops her inner pain is encountering two people whose lives she intends to help. Jenkins is making this altered world extraordinarily real. The conversation between Chalice and Sharise rings true, as does Sharise’s dialogue with a specific character that begins on Page 13. I especially like how Martin is adjusting to his new surroundings. Plus, look at all the new people in this environment! I hope that Jenkins gets to give all of these interesting alters a tale or two. The character who appears on 18 and 19 comes of as more crazy than insane, but I do appreciate his brief appearance to remind readers that he can’t stay in this location forever. The last page is a creepy reveal that is undone by the ad for next issue that sits next to it. C’mon, AfterShock–Spoilers! Still, it’s an eerie moment that leaves me wanting more. Overall grade: A

The art: Leila Leiz is quickly becoming one of my favorite artists. She is able to create a real world for normal people as well as capture the fantastic abilities of the amazing alters. The first four pages are perfect examples of how she can create the real world. Beginning high above, looking down on a street, Leiz pulls in to all the players as rain pours down upon them. The final and largest panel on the page has Sharise angrily moving towards the Anarchists. As she and her children are threatened, the rain batters the characters, making the physical torment as strong as the psychological. The rain that’s hitting the characters is impressive, with none of their likenesses lost in the downpour. Sharise’s abilities are wonderfully illustrated, with her escape being terrific. The conversation on Pages 10 and 11 is excellent, with Liez moving the point of view around to keep things visually interesting for the reader, yet also hitting all the strong points in the dialogue to allow characters a slight emotion or movement for the strongest visual impact, such as at the top of 11. The location that follows is outstanding, with all the characters bustling about and one male character trying to get Sharise to consider his suggestions. 18 and 19 feature a villain who’s seemingly in the lap of luxury, though he has needs that he wants met. It’s the final panel of the book that really stands out, reminding me of Richard Case’s character design for Doom Patrol. This character looks so bizarre, I’m raring to see what his individual does next month. Overall grade: A

The colors: In addition to the story and art, the colors by Leonardo Paciarotti are something to shout about. The deluge the characters are hit by on the first five pages is not a dull visual experience because of Paciarotti’s bright colors; it still looks undeniably cold, but the characters stand out against the rain. Sharise’s powers are given a bright pink and violet to enhance their fantastic nature. Chalice’s yellow hair has her standing out in every panel she appears. Characters’ flesh colors are beautiful, with the highlights being wonderful. The final character on the last page stands out because his flesh pops against the blue background. Liez’s art is beautiful, but Paciarotti’s colors make it magical. Overall grade: A

The letters: Ryane Hill is responsible for this issue’s whispers, dialogue, yells, journal entries, and the tease for next issue. There isn’t a need for sounds this issue, since there’s no physical conflicts, but I have a feeling next issue Hill will be able to make up for this. The dialogue is easy on the eyes, while the whispers are tiny enough to come off in hushed tones but still readable. Chalice’s journal entries are written in a terrific font that employs lower case letters, making her writing authentic. Hill is hitting a bull’s eye for me. Overall grade: A

The final line: A reluctant alter is forced to choose a side for those who have abilities. Everything about this series is terrific, with characters that are real and visuals that are beautiful. This is a series to follow. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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