REVIEW – Stronghold #1

Stronghold #1 - AfterShock Comics

Written by Phil Hester

Art by Ryan Kelly

Colors by Dee Cunniffe

Letters by Simon Bowland

Do you ever sit back and wonder about all the things in life that are happening, and we have no idea?  Call me crazy, but I have always felt like there has to be at least something that is always there but it's not tangible enough for us to see or hear, but we're experiencing it anyway.  That may sound deep, but imagine for a minute that it's actually happening.  What we call ordinary, being constantly set in balance.  Welcome to Stronghold, from AfterShock Comics.

It's hard to really say who the story centers around, as there are a few important players at work here.  Let's start with Michael Grey.  He seems like an ordinary guy, working for an insurance company and talking to a therapist about his problems.  Difference is, Michael just had quite an unimaginable experience and that's not even the half of it.  We also meet Claire, who is deciding whether or not she wants to be a part of what is known as The Stronghold.  It's hard to describe, even for someone who is deciding whether or not they want to be a part of it.  I also don't want to spoil it for you, so I'll simply say that they exist to keep the balance.  Vague I know, but you'll find out as the story progresses that there is a lot more to it than that.  I can tell you that Claire and Michael do know each other, and that becomes a part of the story as well.  Something happens that affects this balance, and will result in a pretty big change in the lives of both Michael and Claire.  The final page of this first issue is really where this story begins.

This book has a fascinating premise, and really had me thinking.  The early pages really caught my attention, but you don't really understand what's going on until about the midway point.  The best way I can describe this is, imagine The Truman Show if the world actually depended on what was happening inside Truman's world.  This is one of the few times that, for me, my attachment to the book is more for the story than the characters themselves.  It's not that they weren't interesting to me, they just felt more like chess pieces taking part in very intricate moves.  There are even times in the story where you are waiting for the player to take their finger off of the piece to officially make that move.  The premise that this story is based on is so interesting to me, I didn't feel like I needed to make those normal character connections.  You could even make the argument that this story is The Truman Show meets Romeo & Juliet if they were traveling through the Matrix.  Just when you can't imagine how all of those things could play together, I give you Stronghold.  Not to mention, the art is pretty great too.  I was hooked from the imagery of the first act alone, where a very detailed scene needed to be set and it was executed to perfection.  There are a lot of moving parts here, and that detail kept me focused and in the moment.  While there is a lot of explaining of how the world works, and plenty of setup, I am really looking forward to seeing where things go in Issue 2.  This could really be one of those books that comes out of nowhere, and suddenly, everyone is talking about it.  I'm curious to see if you feel the same way that I do.


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