Exclusive AfterShock Preview: Phil Hester And Ryan Kelly’s STRONGHOLD #2

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Stronghold #2 hits your local comic book store on March 20, but thanks to AfterShock Comics, Monkeys Fighting Robots has an exclusive four-page preview for you.

The book is written by Phil Hester, with art by Ryan Kelly, colors by Dee Cunniffe, and letters by Simon Bowland. The cover of Stronghold #2 is by Kelly as well.

About the issue:
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.

Check out the preview below with commentary from Hester:

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HESTER ON WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT AND WHY HE’S EXCITED FOR IT TO COME OUT:

“Stronghold is about a college student and delivery driver named Claire who has fallen in love with a sad sack insurance adjuster on her delivery route named Michael Grey. Claire also happens to belong to a centuries-old secret society called The Stronghold who believes this insurance adjuster is actually an immortal, amnesiac elder god whose awakening would ignite a cosmos-wide Armageddon.

Like all young people, Claire feels restless in her strict faith, but when she tests it by revealing herself to Grey, the results threaten to destroy not only her order, but the world. On the run from The Stronghold, alien enemies, and Grey’s own broken, haunting memories, they both realize that for their love to be born, Earth must die.

A story that begins as a lively, adventurous romance spins into a deeper, darker science fiction tale of existential terror and ultimate sacrifice. It’s very much in the flavor of past work of mine like The Coffin and Deep Sleeper (both with Mike Huddleston). If that’s not enough to hook you, come for Ryan Kelly’s amazing artwork, which alone is worth the cover price. He’s really leveled up on this one. As an artist myself, I’m in awe.”

HESTER ON SOME OF THE PRIMARY INFLUENCES THAT LED HIM TO THE BOOK:

“Like every kid, I was enthralled by “hidden destiny” stories like King Arthur, The Prydain Chronicles, and then as a young adult, stuff like Mage and Dune. As I matured, I saw how these stories were much more than wish fulfillment or simple power fantasies, but cautionary tales about how stepping onto the heroic stage often costs you your personal happiness. I wanted to take that one step further and ask, what if pulling the sword from the stone not only wrecked your life, but all life? Is claiming your identity worth annihilating everything you love? Is taking that red pill worth ruining everyone else’s lives?”

HESTER ON BALANCING THE TELLING OF AN INTIMATE ROMANCE AGAINST A BACKDROP DEPICTING A CATACLYSMIC STORY OF LITERAL EARTH-SHATTERING PROPORTIONS:

“Nothing heightens the unreality of a fantastical story like keeping the real aspects of it authentic. What makes Stephen King’s work scary isn’t the big bad monster as much as how effectively he contrasts it with the reality of everyday life. The most frightening parts of The War of the Worlds radio broadcast or the original Night of the Living Dead film are hearing and seeing the mundane media reports struggling to grasp the bizarre events. To maintain that contrast, I sort of have to keep a bright line in my mind between the down-to-earth details of falling in love and the vast cosmic cataclysm yawning underneath everyone’s feet. If a reader can feel the authenticity of the relationship, they’ll feel like they have a stake in its success or failure in the face of these otherworldly forces.”

Exclusive AfterShock Preview: Phil Hester And Ryan Kelly's STRONGHOLD #2


Are you reading AfterShock comics? Comment below with your favorite titles and your thoughts.

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Matthew Sardo
As the founder of Monkeys Fighting Robots, I'm currently training for my next job as an astronaut cowboy. Reformed hockey goon, comic book store owner, video store clerk, an extra in 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon,' 'Welcome Back Freshman,' and for one special day, I was a Ghostbuster.