PopCultHQ received a preview copy of ALTERS #3 from AfterShock Comics. Hitting newsstands this New Comic Book Day (NCBD), Wednesday, December 21st, the creative team for this series features writing from Paul Jenkins (Hellblazer, Civil War: Front Line), interior art by Leila Leiz (Harem, NVRLND), colors from Tamra Bonvillain (Rat Queens, Wayward), lettering by Ryane Hill, with cover art by Brian Stelfreeze (Shadow of the Bat, Jackpot!).
Here’s our spoiler-free look at the third issue of this week’s new release from AfterShock Comics…
Reeling from the tragedy surrounding her first interaction as an Alter, Chalice must reconcile her public persona and her civilian identity. Her transformations are now set in motion, and she struggles to deal with everything. Yet in the midst of this turmoil, new Alters are revealed…including one undergoing Alteration very close to home.
Continue the journey with Eisner Award-winning writer PAUL JENKINS (Wolverine: Origin, Sentry, Inhumans) and incredible artists LEILA LEIZ and TAMRA BONVILLAIN!
PopCultHQ’s Comic Book Review:
Imagine you’re still young and coming into adulthood, living at home, seemingly average parents, and two siblings. Seems normal, right? Well, you’re growing, so you’re likely experiencing emotions due to your hormones getting all funky. Now what if your younger brother was stricken with cerebral palsy? That can certainly be challenging. Now how about knowing you have to deal with pressures and hatred from society and peers if you reveal with how you identify? Top that with discovering that you are an Alter, a being with supernatural abilities who the world fears and one man wants to control and eradicate. So with ALL of that…how would you handle it?
When I read ALTERS #1 upon its release a couple of months ago, “impressed” was a mild way of expressing my thoughts on the debut issue. Immediately I saw this was a different kind of superhero story. It was the first time I truly cared about, and had compassion for, the struggles one undergoing the physical transformation process endures internally and externally. This continued into issue two as well as this one here. I mean, how often is it you have TWO shocking moments in one comic book issue? ALTERS #3 has got it like that. The series shows heart, a lot of which is credit to the terrific writing and dialogue from Paul Jenkins. His gift is in his delivery. From his story’s progression to the structure of his narrative, the chemistry found in Charlie’s family and the dynamic (and believable!) presence each character he’s created, there’s a number of reasons Jenkins is an Eisner Award winner. Years from now looking back, ALTERS will most certainly be a notable highlight on Jenkins’ career.
Artist Leila Leiz is in her element and has established a defining look for those in the ALTERS universe. Her drawings of certain mannerisms or expressions always bring a smiling expression upon yours truly. And I HAVE to say that I feel Chalice’s costume/outfit and overlook is one of the sweetest I’ve seen all year!
Tamra Bonvillain, who I first became familiar with from her prior work on Action Lab’s Bigfoot: Sword of the Earthman, as well as Rat Queens for Image, is the perfect compliment to Leiz in this series. Her vibrant colors, strong sense of lighting/shading, and her smart usage of tertiary, seldom-used hues, make for visual treats for your eyes. Give me more plum, teal, and sunflower Tamra! 😉
The combined effort put into ALTERS by Jenkins, Leiz, Bonvillain, and Hill show their commitment to excellence and passion for sharing this story with the world. While reading through ALTERS (all three issues), I couldn’t help but feel that each person contributed more than just their creative talent. It’s as if bits of them, their lives and stories and past experiences, add to the atmosphere and tone found within. I can’t explain it any other way than that.
I am really growing in my”love to hate” of the series’ antagonist, Matter Man. I really like how his character is being revealed and evolving. Actually, now that I think about it, practically EVERY character introduced in ALTERS has seen growth and/or depth. That’s what’s up!
PopCultHQ’s overall assessment:
The way ALTERS is put together and presented might just be the best, most efficient way to bring a transgender superhero into the mainstream comic book industry. However, ALTERS is so much more than simply a “transgender superhero comic.” The series raises societal issues, displays real-world conditions, and has moments where it hits you in the feels every now and again.
When Charlie is with his family, it’s those moments that keep the story grounded. You’ll sympathize with them, relate to their interactions, laugh along with them, but also have your heartstrings tugged a little. As integral as Charlie being transgender is to the book, the Chalice character deserves a great deal of credit. Her look, abilities, heck even her swagger makes for just an amazing ass-kicking superhero, regardless of gender or identity.
Smartly written, sharp art, colors that pop, and a nice, brisk pace to the storyline. There’s a lot of great stuff to explore, such as the backstory of how Alters came to be and the Alteration process, deeper backstory on a number of lead and supporting characters, and appealing or intriguing relationships unfolding.
Finally to note, you have each person on the creative team at the top of their respective games. Back that with a publisher whose stock has been steadily on the rise month after month, ALTERS has the potential to not only continue its successful run, but quite possibly become one of the cornerstones to AfterShock’s library of titles.
PopCultHQ’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Look for ALTERS #3 on ComiXology and on Amazon
or at your local comic shop and various online retailers NOW!
T H E ~ C R E A T I V E ~ R E V O L U T I O N ~ S T A R T S ~ H E R E !
Be sure to follow the creative team!
Writer – Paul Jenkins
Artist – Leila Leiz
Colorist – Tamra Bonvillain
Cover Artist – Brian Stelfreeze