In Review: Alters #10

A solid conclusion with a new Alter's painful transformation and Charlie making an important decision.

The cover: Chalice looks at the reader with a sly smile on her face as glass flies about her. This maelstrom seems to have occurred because Charlie is shattering his physical form to become the person he’s more comfortable as. This is an excellent symbolic cover created by Leila Leiz with Leonardo Paciarotti that shows the hero satisfied with her decision. I like the duality of this frontpiece and the colors are really bright, making this stand out against other comics on the shelf. Overall grade: A

The story: This is the final issue of this series, for now, as writer Paul Jenkins states in the closing editorial. The book opens in the thick of things as young Latavius screams as dark matter swirls about him, destroying everything it touches in the warehouse. Chalice is able to shield herself and her allies from the child’s energy, though Octavian signals, “If there’s any dark anti-matter in there…I need you and your team to withdraw. Now!” Chalice can’t do that because the boy’s mother Sharise is lost in quantum space and she wants to save her. Consumed by the dark matter, Latavius, now a fluid stream of deadly material, tears through the ceiling and disappears. With the help of her friends, a quantum portal is opened and Chalice leaps in to save the lost mother. I was glad that Jenkins had Chalice do this, as it shows her commitment to the woman and demonstrates to the reader that Chalice is a true hero who puts others’ safety before her own. Once this sequence has ended, the focus shifts to Latavius who is a “rage swarm” composed “partly of volatile dark anti-matter. That thing is capable of leveling an entire city.” The Chief wants the team out, but Sharise and Chalice want to help the child. They race to the city to do so. Their battle with the wild child is good, but is too similar to the ending of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It works in this comic, but, living in a home with a Potterhead daughter, I’ve seen this conclusion several times. Heck, it’s even in the same location as the film’s climax. Better is the three page finale that has Charlie make a decision regarding his family using something that readers have encountered several times. Jenkins has definitely allowed this character to grow. Overall grade: B+

The art: The art on this book by Leila Leiz looks terrific. Don’t believe me? Look at the first page. She’s created a fantastic sense of chaos with a little boy smack dab in the middle of it. The ebony swirls of anti-mater look as though they are alive — and could probably give Venom a run for his money — with the destruction around him in the bottom panel brilliant. The page that follows shows the heroes trying to protect themselves from the devastation occurring, yet notice Leiz doesn’t just ignore the anti-matter, it’s snaking about in the panels that the heroes are in. The third panel on the page shows the Chief and Glider calm and cool at their monitoring console, providing an excellent contrast to the action. The close-up of Chalice expertly shows the strain she’s feeling in trying to keep Latavius’s power back. Page 3 is composed of four vertical panels that perfectly capture the boy and the matter’s exit and the heroes racing to recoup ground. I can’t praise that anti-matter enough, it looks great wherever it appears, no matter how large or small it is. Also well done are the two pages within quantum space as Chalice attempts to rescue Sharise. For such an abstract environment, Leiz makes it work so the reader can comprehend what’s being shown. The destruction of New York, specifically Times Square, looks good. The conclusion to the battle on 14 really captures motion exceptionally well. After all the action, the book ends quietly with Charlie and his family, with Leiz creating some good tension going around the dinner table to show each character’s face. Overall grade: A

The colors: The colors on this issue by Leonardo Paciarotti are really spectacular. Look at the sensational violets used for the setting, but they’re not so heavy as to drown the panels. Chalice’s shield is easy seen by the reader in its pink tones. The interior of the quantum space is a showstopper in reds and violets; Pages 5 and 6 are my favorites of the book. When Latavius is running amok in the city, the coloring is full of oranges, yellows, and reds, which highlights the darkness of the dangerous matter and allow the transformation sequence to be stronger when those colors disappear. The white smoke that appears after those pages make it seem as if a ghostly calm has settled on the scene. Normal colors of a normal family close out the book, though Charlie shows his predilection for violets, which is nice nod to his alter ego. Overall grade: A 

The letters: Ryane Hill creates screams, dialogue, whispers, sounds, yells, text from Charlie’s diary, and the final words that momentarily end this series. The opening screams by Latavius are incredibly strong and the sounds that come about as he’s destroying New York are powerful. I like the whispered lines in this book, which are tiny enough to be read yet still signify their quiet nature. Charlie’s text from his diary continues to be a winner, looking as though it was hand written by a teen, yet easy enough to be read. Overall grade: A 

The final line: A solid conclusion with a new Alter’s painful transformation and Charlie making an important decision. I love this universe and hope that all the creators return to it soon enough. 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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