Super-Powered Aliens And Global Conspiracy In Stronghold #2

by Brendan M. Allen

Chapter Two: The Adversary. As Michael Grey investigates the global conspiracy dedicated to concealing from him his mysterious past, he learns the enemies he created in that forgotten life are decidedly not of this earth. Tragic romance and cosmic horror collide in this second issue of Hester and Kelly’s epic saga.

Stronghold #2 introduces a new extra-terrestrial player, The Teacher. This new fellow is hiding out in a jungle somewhere, pulling strings and orchestrating violent global chaos. He’s apparently hiding out from the Stronghold, while informants keep him up to speed on the carnage that’s happening at his command around the world. Endlessly searching for something, one report catches his eye and demands his immediate attention. Something about a kid who was pulled out of a river while her rescuer never surfaced? Hey! That sounds like our buddy Mike!
The opening chapter focused on Michael and Claire, giving us insight into how the Stronghold operates. Phil Hester spends a lot of time this chapter on The Teacher, who gives off a strong Elijah Price vibe. There’s also a strange duality to the nature of this new cat, as he simultaneously uses his odd alien magic to heal a fatal heart defect in a screaming infant while ordering murder and brutality on a massive scale.
Ryan Kelly and Dee Cuniffe do an amazing job visually blending the absolutely bonkers with the perfectly mundane in Stronghold. It doesn’t even look odd seeing a seven foot cross between Groot and a Roswell Grey wearing Surtur’s crown interacting with average folk. They also provide a clever emotional barometer through moody palette choices and torqued layout.
The Messianic themes are really bleeding through in chapter two. The Stronghold even calls big ugly “The Adversary,” which is an honorific for Satan pulled straight from 1 Peter. I’m really digging the pacing thus far. There’s enough meat on the bone to keep the reader engaged, without giving away too much of the big picture. This issue’s cliffhanger promises a huge pop to open up chapter three.
Stronghold #2, AfterShock Comics, released 20 March 2019. Created by Phil Hester, Ryan Kelly, & Tyler Walpole, written by Phil Hester, art by Ryan Kelly, color by Dee Cunniffe, letters by Simon Bowland, logo by Emma Price.

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