This review of Alter Ego: The Other Me by Author David Terruso, Illustrations Nick DeStefano has been adapted from several previous posts. This post contains reviews and summaries for volumes 1 and 2, plus a spoiler free review for Origins. First is the spoiler free reviews followed by the spoiler full reviews and summaries.
Many thanks to author David Terruso for providing me with a copy of Alter Ego in order to write these honest reviews.
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Volume 1 Spoiler Free Review
Let me get this part out of the way. I loved this book. I LOVED it. I think it’s my favorite book that I’ve read so far this year. Read it, do it. Stop reading this, go read Alter Ego instead.
Alter Ego is in its own genre. I’m calling it a comic novel. It’s formatted in a way that the top part of the page is written in paragraphs and the bottom of the page is in comic panels.
But I wouldn’t just call it a picture book. It’s more than that. It’s extraordinarily well thought out and well formatted. The paragraphs always page break at a natural spot. You never have to finish a sentence on the next page and then flip back to look at the pictures. You can finish the paragraph and then take your time analyzing the pictures without ever leaving the flow of the story.
Additionally, there are codes to help you keep track of the storytelling devices. If a picture is tinted blue it’s a flashback. Such a simple device helps the reader so immensely. It’s this kind of detail that really helps the book stand out from any other slapped together mystery novel.
Terruso wants you to be able to follow the story and find the clues within both the words and the pictures. I always hate it in mysteries where it feels like the author wants you to get confused and lost and deliberately leaves false clues and red herrings and keeps things vague just to mess with you.
Alter Ego doesn’t do that, it’s better than that. Terruso treats the reader with respect, he treats the art of storytelling with respect, and he elevates the whole craft to a new level. The bar is up here people!
This book is what it looks like when a team takes the time to make it perfect. It’s not churned out for profit. It’s the culmination of study, research, natural talent, and love. This is what you get when you have a vision and don’t stop until it’s exactly what it should be.
The basic story is that Chris Club, a private investigator, is hired to discover the true identity of a mysterious superhero who appeared after a supernatural event occurred.
We follow Club as he picks up clues. We do not know anything that he doesn’t know. We’re not watching him solve the mystery, we’re solving it with him. That’s way more fun to me.
And this book is FUN. It’s so much fun to read. I usually crank through a few books a week and I figured this short one could be knocked out on a lunch break. I was wrong. I slowed down. I took my time on each page. Re-reading sentences. Staring at pictures. Taking notes and looking back over them as I went along. I got so sucked into this story what normally would’ve taken me two hours took two days and I loved it the whole time.
The characters are interesting and realistic. Everybody has some good and bad to them, no one is pure hero or pure villain. There are risks taken with the characters and the stories that most authors shy away from or would only display in order to be edgy but Terruso handles everything with care and foresight.
I have absolute faith that every piece of this puzzle will come to place by the end. I trust that nothing is superfluously added just to stand out or be shocking. It all belongs and will pay off.
I honestly haven’t been this wowed by a book in a good long time. This review probably just sounds like a gushing fan girl but I think I am at this point. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series as it’s published and I really hope that you buy this book and feel the same way.
5/5 blue people 🧞♂️🧞♂️🧞♂️🧞♂️🧞♂️
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Alter Ego: The Other Me Volume 2 Spoiler Free Review
The first issue of Alter Ego: The Other Me left me enthralled and wanting more. Issue 2 doubled it.
Everything that I found captivating and intriguing about issue 1 is multiplied in issue 2. There is more action, more creativity, more more more. It’s also way darker. Like disturbing and grotesquely darker. But in the best possible way.
This may be just a remnant from my days as a teenage edge lord but I love anything that can still shock me. I spent so many years watching all of the most extreme exploitation flicks I could find. Or the most despicable books or music or anything to really push the limits of decency.
At a certain point I either grew up a little or just ran out of material. I stopped finding any thrill in it. Well every once in a while I’ll find a book or movie or something that can still find new lines to cross. This second issue found some interesting lines.
I was astonished at how deeply demented the villain Erika is. We only got a hint as to her sadistic debauchery in issue 1. Issue 2 throws you in the deep end of her depravity and doesn’t let you turn away.
One of the best things about this book is that it has pictures. It’s half comic book, half novel. So when something really needs emphasis you get to see it in two forms. Erika baring her true colors in her signature green top is something that stuck with me for days.
The color scheme of the pictures is important. I haven’t quite cracked the code as to what everything actually means yet but I know that the colors green, blue, and pink are important. Numbers and symbols also come into play.
Alter Ego makes you slow down. You read the words then investigate the pictures. It’s so much fun to attempt to decipher the meaning hidden within each panel. Everything is so meticulously planned and formatted. And with the brevity of fewer than 100 pages everything carries weight. There isn’t a single superfluous word or image.
Just as in the first issue, there is a lot packed into just a few pages. Do not expect to fly through it in one sitting. Take your time and really think about it as you go from page to page. Pay attention, be engaged. It’s so worth it.
Issue 2 has a couple of big reveals but there is still a lot left unknown. I’m going to be horribly impatient waiting for the next issue. I know that author Terruso has even bigger and even darker tricks up his sleeves for the whole series.
The biggest trick of all is showing me something I’ve never seen before. The format is new and exciting, the story is new, the characters, the action, the twists, the turns, it’s all new to me. I’ve never read anything like it, a truly original work!
I cannot recommend Alter Ego: The Other Me enough. It’s spectacular and I sincerely hope you’ll pick up both issues and start the journey through this highly inventive series.
5/5 fiery explosions 💥💥💥💥💥
Origins Spoiler Free Review
I’ve been waiting over a year for this book, and not patiently. Author Terruso has tortured me with teaser images and absolutely no hints about what comes next. It was worth the wait.
I’ll start with the formatting of the series and why taking the time to do it right is so important. It’s half comic book and half novel. The story is told with the top half of each page filled with the main story told in paragraphs. The bottom half of the pages are pictures that could be illustrating the words above, could be flashbacks, and could be a side story or clues about stuff we haven’t seen yet.
It’s a unique format that I adore. It requires the reader to slow down and actually pay attention to the artwork as much as they do the words. Illustrator DeStefano impressively tells his own story in visual clues. It’s a testament to teamwork that these books flow as seamlessly as they do.
The story for Alter Ego Origins: Issue 1 picks up where Alter Ego The Other Me: Issue 2 leaves off. It’s difficult to go into too much of it here without spoiling the previous two books.
I’m also going to be totally honest here. I was too engrossed in this book to take notes. Normally, I jot down thoughts and key points as I go. I read until something important happens, pick up my phone and type it in, then get distracted by notifications or reddit, then get back to reading.
Well, I didn’t do any of that this time. I was so into the book I didn’t write anything down until I was done. I think that’s maybe the best review I could give a book. Alter Ego is so good I forgot I had social media for a few hours!
I can tell you that Alter Ego Origins does answer many questions from the first two books directly. You will get some clarity here! Finally!
It also provides more back story for several of the characters. This issue provides a lot more substance to the Alter Ego universe. We are starting to move away from the obscure mystery and get into the meat of the story.
I’m so happy to discover that this book can solve a big mystery and still be intriguing. It doesn’t stop at a big reveal, it allows the characters to live with the consequences of it. There’s so much more than finding answers, there’s dealing with the truth.
I can’t praise this series enough. I truly hope that some of you will finally go out and read it from the start. It’s rare that a story this special comes along, please don’t miss out on it.
5/5 coffins ⚰⚰⚰⚰⚰
Alter Ego: The Other Me Volume 1 Summary
Alter Ego is not your typical book. It’s part novel, part comic book, all mystery. The pages are formatted in a half and half manner. Paragraphs on top, comic panels on bottom.
The pictures are not always descriptive of the words on that page. They might be color coded to demonstrate a flashback, they might be depicting something happening elsewhere in the story at the same time. In any case, they’re loaded with details and clues necessary for the story.
The formatting of the book is extremely impressive. The pages always stop at a natural breaking point that allows for the reader to analyze the pictures without feeling removed from the flow of the story. I honestly have no idea how difficult this was to achieve for all 75 pages but I was in awe every time.
Only 75 pages? That’s correct. I was expecting to be able to knock this one out in a lunch break but I actually took a couple days to read it because it’s so incredibly dense. A lot happens over a short amount of time and there is a lot to take in and process.
But it is so much fun to read and analyze and process the words and pictures in this book that you’ll never regret a single moment of doing so. It’s one of the most engaging books I’ve picked up in a very long time.
I found myself slowing down. Really reading and thinking about each sentence. Really looking at every part of the pictures. And really loving how drawn into the story I became.
So let’s get into it. Chris Club is a private investigator (PI) hired to discover the true identity of a new superhero who has appeared in this city. His name is Blue and he only appears at night. He seems to pick and choose who he saves and is a love him or hate him public figure.
The woman who hires him is a twisted sadist whom we can assume has nefarious motives for wanting to discover Blue’s identity but as is the case for most PIs, Club needs to get paid so he takes the job anyway.
We follow Club back to his apartment building where we discover that he was friends with a kid who passed away there. The kid’s parents are happy to discover that Club is real and not just an imaginary friend that their child made up. They want to spend time with him but Club is uncomfortable.
The kid that Club was friends with was not saved by Blue and Club is resentful of that. Club is not necessarily on team Blue.
He goes to the local comic book shop to start his search for Blue. The kid who works there, who goes by Black Adam, says to start with the reporters who write about him most often.
We then learn a little about the event known as “The Blink.” For one second everyone on earth experienced an intense sensory loss. Everything went to black, and nothingness, and no one knows why. Blue appeared after this blink.
He follows a lead from a reporter about a young pink haired girl who was rescued by Blue during a rare appearance in the daylight. He follows her to her foster home and then to a diner. He finds himself attracted to this very young girl and is super creeped out by that fact.
The book itself has a disclaimer in the beginning about this relationship between an adult male and a pubescent girl. Apparently, at some point down the line in a sequel we’ll discover things aren’t what they seem.
One of the things this book does best is honesty. We do not live in black and white and all of us have thoughts that we don’t dare say out loud. It’s malarkey to claim otherwise. Club finds himself drawn to the beauty of a girl he logically knows to be too young for himself or the law. He doesn’t want to act on it. He doesn’t act on it. But we do see that the thought flashes involuntarily across his mind.
Don’t act like you’ve never had an impure thought. Club is all of us. We’re just not brave enough to put it out there for discussion.
Back to the diner. The pink haired girl is named Annie and she cozies up to Club very quickly. Flirts with him in a way that a naive young girl who thinks she’s spiritually older than she actually is would.
She says she thinks she knows Blue personally but doesn’t remember because she can’t remember anything from before The Blink.
I usually find amnesia to be a cheap plot device. Often it comes off as lazy writing. This is not the case for Alter Ego. It’s necessary and it makes sense for the confines of this story.
Club is now going to team up with Annie to solve this mystery. A man named Delvin hires Club for a job. Even though he promised to only work on the Blue case for the time being Delvin’s pay offer is far too great to ignore. Delvin also has a mustache that looks suspiciously like Blue’s mask… Coincidence? Maybe!
Club goes to get his new assignment and discovers he’s being tasked with finding a pink haired girl. Annie. Delvin says that he should really carry a gun for this mission. Club doesn’t understand why Annie would be so dangerous but also doesn’t let on that he already knows her whereabouts.
He returns home to discover Annie in his bed in nothing but panties and his sweatshirt. Her pubic hair is visible peeking out of the top of her underwear. Club notices this and mentally chastises himself and he redresses her as she sleeps.
Club so desperately doesn’t want to get in any trouble with this, even in his own mind. When Annie wakes up she finds this all hilarious.
Since Annie doesn’t remember anything she doesn’t remember anything about Delvin. Doesn’t know why he’d be looking for her. But she wants to learn as much as Club does so she agrees to go with him to Delvin’s place. Upon their arrival Delvin tries to shoot Annie but Blue miraculously appears to save her and he ends up shooting Club in the foot instead.
Blue knows who everyone present is somehow. He threatens Delvin and speaks oddly.
Club now wants to bring in backup so he gets Black Adam on the team. Black Adam immediately falls for Annie. She just has a way about her.
During a stake out in the car Annie sings along to a song that has never been heard before. Is she from the future? What’s going on here?
They hear about another Blue sighting, during the day, but just miss him. While Annie was sleeping off the previous night’s stake out Blue attempts to rescue dozens of people from a dock collapse. Blue is unable to save everyone and is extremely upset about it.
I always enjoy when superheroes take their failings really hard. I think it’s an interesting trait when a powerful entity takes the weight of the world on their shoulders and Blue obviously has this problem.
Club returns to check on Annie and finds her very distraught as well. They put some pieces together and form the theory that Blue is part of Annie, she sends him out while she’s sleeping.
End of part 1.
I am so hooked. I can’t wait to see where this story goes next!
The characters are interesting and multi-faceted and I’m invested in their story. The mystery is well crafted and superbly paced. The pictures aid in the story instead of just taking up space. I could go on and on.
Alter Ego is a one of a kind book. It invented its own genre and style in order to find a way to best tell the story and keep the reader at peak engagement the entire time. It’s a book that will get better and more interesting with each read and one that I will return to once the series is complete. I can’t wait to discover all of the clues I missed the first time!
5/5 blue people 🧞♂️🧞♂️🧞♂️🧞♂️🧞♂️
Volume 2 Summary
This issue gets dark and the plot points discussed in this review are not suitable for kids or sensitive audiences. At all.
We left Issue 1 with Club determining that Annie projects the superhero Blue while she sleeps. Club wants to test to see if she has other powers that might prove useful. But they aren’t sure how to do this without risking serious injury.
Club is busy getting intimidated by his sadistic boss Erika while Annie gets kidnapped for the first time. There will be a lot of kidnapping in this book.
While Club is searching for Annie her foster family finally figures out she’s been missing and start a mild search as well.
We get a little backstory on Club around this time. In his former career as a police officer he was encouraged to leave the force after his partner went recklessly into a situation that got him severely injured and Club didn’t have his back.
Erika has Annie and is torturing her, gleefully. Delvin, introduced in issue 1 as a mustachioed rich guy with unclear motives, is trying to buy her out of imprisonment. But Erika doesn’t need money, she needs pain.
Club discovers his phone is bugged and is in need of a plan. He teams up with Black Adam, introduced in issue 1 as a teenage comic book nerd with an affinity toward solving mysteries. Black Adam surprises the reader throughout this whole issue. At this point he steals an assault rifle from his drunk uncle and agrees to act as sniper over a hostage negotiation.
Club meets with Erika under the agreement that he’ll become her lifelong indentured servant in exchange for Annie. Of course she neglects to bring Annie with her to the meet up.
Things start to go sideways and Black Adam straight murders Erika’s guards from the adjacent rooftop. Um… yo Black Adam? Where’d you learn to shoot like that?
Erika then shocks the reader by revealing how insane and twisted she really is. She gets intensely sexually aroused by violence and the misery of others. Sexually aroused to the point of uncontrollable actions. To the point of fingering herself with the blood of her own guards as lube.
Dude. You can’t seriously tell me you’ve seen a sicker villain than that!
Club has many many emotions going at the sight of this. He manages to get her handcuffed and Erika is crying for him to rape her. Club, who seriously needs to get laid by an adult women who consents to the activity, briefly considers this proposal before shaking it out of his id.
As in issue 1, one of the best things that author Terruso does with these books is brutal and disgusting honesty. He doesn’t shy away from the darkness that is in all of us. Those thoughts you dare not speak out loud, he puts them on the page in full color.
Club kidnaps Erika and is going to attempt to trade her for Annie. On the way to the next hostage exchange location Club learns Erika’s motives. She honestly just wants to kill Blue for the fun of it. She thinks it will cause world wide heartbreak and she can’t wait to watch.
This whole time there’s been a mysterious guy piloting a drone following the action. We do not yet know who this man is and we won’t know through this whole issue. That will be a reveal for another time.
The reporter who worked with Club in issue 1 retrieves Annie for them. Club, Annie, and Black Adam steal a car and try to form the next step of the plan on the go.
That is until they realize that Blue sticks close to Annie. He’s a beacon to their hunters every time she falls asleep. With their location compromised Club gets kidnapped the second he goes out for supplies.
Now Erika has both Club and Annie in her custody. Black Adam managed to get away but has to face a miserable home life while he’s separated from the action.
One of Erika’s henchmen, who turns out to also be her twin brother, decides to finally step up and stop her. Erika kills her brother easily and without remorse.
She reveals her plans to Club just like any true super villain should. She has Club’s car wired with explosives and has it parked at the children’s hospital. Yup, she’s going to blow up sick kids.
She has camera feeds displaying what will soon be the action as well as a countdown timer going. This is all in full view of both Club and Annie as they are meant to enjoy the show. But that isn’t enough for our demented villainess. She still needs to get hers.
She begins to rape Club and is trying to time her orgasm with the countdown timer so she’ll explode at the same time as the children. That was a weird sentence to write. This book is fucked up ya’ll!
The sight of Erika on top of Club finally gets Annie angry enough to display the powers she actually does have. She breaks through her handcuffs and punches Erika’s head clean off her body!
Wow, okay, so Erika is clearly no longer a threat but the countdown to massacred cancer kids is.
This book contains a lot of tiny clues and patterns that are sprinkled like breadcrumbs throughout both issues so far. I’m certain I’ve missed many of them but I did pick up on the number 8. All of the countdown timers showed have numbers that add up to 8. What this means? Couldn’t tell you, but I noticed it and that’s enough for me right now.
So, cancer kids in danger. Annie manages to kill her way through the high security building but even with everyone dead they’re still locked inside.
They have no choice but to test the limits of Annie and Blue’s connection. They jump off the roof hoping it will summon Blue to save them. On their way down Annie kisses Club and he loves it. He loves it but feels an incredible guilt and shame because she’s still seriously underage.
Blue does save them from splattering all over the pavement and then rushes to get the car away from the hospital. He saves the kids and the car explodes midair in a spectacular show.
Devlin arrives to attempt the final kidnapping of the issue but Annie isn’t having it. She beats the ever loving hell out of everyone and traps them in their own kidnapping van.
Post climax, a misguided and well intentioned Club tells Annie that he would like to formally adopt her and give her a home. She’s terribly offended. She doesn’t want him to be her dad she wants him to be her boyfriend! They part in anger.
Club decides to finally try and form a healthy relationship with someone and invites Danny’s parents to dinner. Danny’s family was introduced in issue 1, just go read issue 1 first. He also invites Black Adam and Denise, another one of Erika’s victims to join the broken family party.
That night Club is woken up by Blue standing at the foot of his bed. Without his mask on. Blue says Club needs to help him save the world from the end. To do this he must talk to “the other me” Devlin Godfrey.
Cliff hanger! And I’m pretty upset at how long I’ll have to wait for issue 3! This book is wild!
I haven’t been this thrilled by a series… ever? It’s incredible. I can’t wait to go back through when it’s done and pick apart all the clues I missed the first time. I cannot recommend this series enough and I’m certain that even after reading this review and having it all spoiled it will still be an astounding read for you.
It’s original, smart, creative, dark, funny, gross, sexy, wrong, exciting, taboo, emotional, every other adjective you can think of that you want a book to be. Go get it. Now!
5/5 fiery explosions 💥💥💥💥💥
Please please please buy this book. Support this author and keep this series going!