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Disclaimer: as you can see, I work here at Eventide (though I did buy my H9's before I began working here). Here's how I would answer your questions:

  1. I've not noticed coloration myself, but that doesn't mean that others won't. I can only say that I've used it in front (and in the loop of) many, many amps, boards and directly into my computer and it's never been a problem for me. It has a buffer, but you can turn it off, for true bypass, if that's a concern. 
  2. Absolutely. Here's a tutorial that explains it a bit more. 
  3. In short: a lot. The best way to illustrate that is to look at the controls of a few of the algorithms. Here are a few: Blackhole, Crushstation and Diatonic (pitch shift). Scroll down to the "H9 Control" view section and you'll see what you can change for each. Click the + signs for details. It can be overwhelming at first, so we recommend playing around with some factory presets until you feel comfortable. Keep in mind that you can do everything on the pedal itself that you can do with H9 Control. 
  4. I think this has more to do with taste than quality, but there are some that I feel could be better. For instance, I'm not wild about the Vibrato algorithm, but it does work and perhaps it's just a matter of taste. 

I've not played through an Axe FX so it's hard to compare the quality, but I don't think you'll be disappointed with the H9. There are many, many professionals out there who have done the same sort of downsizing with the help of the H9. 

I'll leave you with how I've come to use my H9 over the years: At first, I tried to use two H9s to replace all my other effects. I found that it worked just fine, but that some dedicated pedals were good to have for ease of use (tap dancing), as well as for their distinctive sound. For instance, I have separate overdrive, wah and reverb pedals. I use the H9 for effects that I need for songs or gigs that I wouldn't/couldn't have a dedicated pedal for. For instance, flanger, phaser, Blackhole (reverb), chorus, Synthonizer and so on. This setup gives me basically everything I need to play, folk to metal, with four pedals. Hope this helps.