This review of Stronghold Vol. 1: The Chains has two parts. A personal and a non-personal section.
It was in a big ol’ Catholic church in the capital city of Richmond that I first met Kevin Roberts. We had a lot in common. In fact, it was Kevin who actually introduced me to the PS3. Kevin made me play Heavenly Sword until I loved it. Kevin got me addicted to Little Big Planet, and Kevin was the one who let me watch all those Studio Ghibli movies I vaguely remembered from my childhood, in lovely, crisp, dubbed DVDs. Kevin also introduced me to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. I could go on and on about our delightfully strange friendship.
But what I’m trying to say is, Kevin had a lot to do with my modern nerd education. I’d been in my own little nerdy bubble, years behind everyone, and meeting Kevin was really the first time I had anyone to share my geeky passions with. And during this time, I clearly remember sitting on his bed, watching him work on “his” comic, Sanctuary.
You can read the story of how Sanctuary became Stronghold in the back of this three-part jumbo issue, which I highly recommend you pick up. Not just because he’s my friend, but also because it’s super cheap (only 99 cents for three issues!) and because supporting indie comic creators is important.
These young men also met in the church. They nerded out over Power Rangers together, and then they took it a step further. They raised money, they worked hard, they took criticism, and they got better. I’d love to see more of us follow our dreams with such persistence.
So that’s my little personal two cents about why I would love for you to pick up Stronghold. Below is the actual non-biased review.
Stronghold is an indie comic, written by Brian Michael Visaggio, with art by Kevin Michael Roberts, and self-published on Comixology. This first issue is actually three issues in one and, at eighty-one pages, is a steal for 99 cents.
The story will appeal to lovers of Super Sentai and sci-fi, as it’s heavily influenced by the idea of a small group of people standing against impossible odds. However, unlike your average Saturday morning cartoon, Stronghold is dark and emotional, with a sense of despair heightened by the oppressive color palette.
By no means is it perfect, as there are minor typos, and some will take issue with the heavily saturated art and often stylized faces. Artistically, the strong points are alien faces and technology, and I loved seeing the diverse cast of characters. How many Jewish super heroes have I run into? I think the art and writing also really capture the vibe of New York City perfectly. Even future, alien-infested NYC!
There are also plenty of interesting female characters, each with different personalities and realistically proportioned bodies (we ask for so little, comic creators! So very little). I believe the number of characters influenced the length and pace of the first issue, which is certainly slower than the other two, as it has quite a few people to introduce to us.
The only issue I had with the writing was the narrative voice. Most of the time, it was very prose-like and formal, but every once in a while it would bounce into a seedy noir detective voice, which was slightly jarring.
Other than that, I enjoyed the story and I’m interested in seeing how the dynamic of the group changes in issue 4.
Twenty years ago, Earth was attacked by an alien race called the Ouranians. They won and subjugated the planet. Now, a small terrorist cell is doing what they can win their liberty from The Throne. But do these kids even know the price of freedom?
(I wrote that myself, they didn’t send along a plot. But I think it’s pretty good for my first try.)
Writer: Brian Michael Visaggio
Artist: Kevin Michael Roberts