Review: Controlled Mayhem In STRONGHOLD #3


A magnificent comic which blends the superhero mythos with modern comic book storytelling. Stronghold contains exceptional work from everyone involved and surpasses anything the Big 2 are putting out.
- Advertisement -

Conspiracies; Alien Invaders; Superhero actions; Stronghold #3 from AfterShock Comics has it all. Continuing to dig into the ‘Alien among us’ concept, the creators pull out all the stops and expand their world view.

Stronghold keeps getting bigger and bigger, and going to places the reader would not expect.

cover art
Stronghold #3 Credit: AfterShock Comics


After the massacre at the stadium, the Stronghold rally to control the situation and keep the Primacy out of the action. But the best laid plans don’t stand a chance against the ingenuity of Michael and his mission to find Claire.

- Advertisement -

With his emerging new powers and a villain to confront, how will Michael react to the deaths of so many innocent people?

Phil Hester opens this issue with a bang. It’s big and it’s bold. He does not apologise from the harshness of the scene but at the same time he does not wallow in the violence. The Adversary is a larger than life character and an obvious villain but one of the brilliant aspects of Hester’s script is that, as the story unfolds, the villain becomes sympathetic. The obvious black and white elements of the narrative are quickly muddied, just as in previous issues, so that the reader is not sure who or what to believe.

Hester creates a world where the reader instantly wants to root for the superhero character but he then makes the reader question this choice. What do we know about him? Where does he come from? Why are the Stronghold so obsessed with controlling his environment? All of these questions are raised and, to a certain point, Hester leaves the answers up to the reader.

Stronghold is about character’s getting manipulated and the consequences of that. It is also a comment on how mainstream comic’s handle their hero’s. So often superhero stories are straightforward, the reader knows who to stand behind even when things go awry. There is comfort in them, knowing who the hero is. With Stronghold Hester is challenging that conception. He uses elements from the format to create a world of grey areas. There is a large element of control and manipulation by various characters throughout the comic making this relevant to today’s world.

If comics like Superman and Captain American represented the need for Hope in the 1940’s then Stronghold represents the need for information in the modern world. It highlights the dangers of accepting everything at face value but also the reasons why it is easier or more appealing to do this.

Stronghold interior art
Stronghold #3 Credit: AfterShock Comics


Ryan Kelly has a firm grasp on a sense of the dramatic. Each of the pages of Stronghold is packed with bold images and dynamic composition. Kelly creates a cinematic staging of the scenes using the panels like a camera, following the action and focusing on characters in slow zoom like movement. The intensity of a moment is heightened by the pacing in the panels: a slow turn followed by a stepped close up, for example, produces a menacing moment and enhances the threatening behaviour.

There is a tone set by the coloring throughout Stronghold. For a large part of the comic, Dee Cunniffe uses mostly a blue hue across the pages. This reflects the twilight setting for much of the comic but also makes the reader uncomfortable, as it portrays a coldness penetrating the narrative. It also allows Cunniffe to highlight one element of a scene and make it easy to follow across the panels.

Simon Bowland excels in giving the speech some punch. He spreads the speech across linked balloons to create a rhythm which he punctuates with the use of bold text. The text directs the way that the reader digests the images around it, giving moments set beats and a reading pattern. This in turn dictates the pace of each page and the transition between panels. The gutters work to identify the tone of a scene but it is Bowland’s lettering that gives each page it’s pace.

interior art work
Stronghold #3 Credit: AfterShock Comics


Stronghold has layers. There are stories and concepts over lapping and weaving together to form a complex and challenging work of fiction. The art work gives the narrative depth and tone. It also packs an emotional punch. There are disturbing scenes and touching scenes, each containing the same intensity.

AfterShock have produced some outstanding comics in the last few years and Stronghold is one of their best. It delves into the ethos of modern superhero comics to produce a piece of work that is both part of the mainstream and a critique of it at the same time.

Save 50% on graphic novels, statues & more!


Donny Cates Kills Off The Marvel Universe In GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #9 Preview

Guardians of the Galaxy #9 hits your local comic book shop on September 18, but thanks to Marvel Comics, Monkeys Fighting Robots has a...

Review: SPIDER-MAN #1 – J.J Abrams And Henry Abrams Take Spidey In A Bold New Direction

Spider-Man #1 by J.J. Abrams, Henry Abrams, Sara Pichelli, Elisabetta D'Amico, Dave Stewart and Joe Caramagna is an intriguing and beautifully illustrated book that...

Review: RONIN ISLAND #6: Will Hana Fight For The Island?

Hana and Kenichi—the dynamic duo who put aside their differences to fight the monstrous Byonin—have been separated for quite some time. After the warriors...

Review: PANDEMICA #1 Throws Us Towards Armageddon

Pandemica is a refreshing take on an apocalyptic narrative and it’s obsession with the build-up gives it an edge over other comics in the same genre.

A New Team Forms in IRONHEART #10

Ironheart #10 is full of twists and turns, humor and tension. It’s a perfectly balanced issues, and one that will be remembered for some time.

How Gwen’s Planning Needs Work in GWENPOOL STRIKES BACK #2

Gwenpool Strikes Back #2 continues Gwenpool’s quest for relevancy, bringing yet another chaotic scheme of hers to fruition, with lots of laughs along the way.

CHAINSAW REINDEER #1 Eschews Deeper Meanings, Embraces Gory Chaos

The titular character’s body count reads like a grocery list and it’s a doozy.

Review: The Expansion Never Ends in STRAYED #2

Strayed #2 continues Lou’s tale, providing brilliant artwork and many of the answers to questions fans have been asking about the series.
Darryll Robson
Darryll Robson
Comic book reader, reviewer and critic. Waiting patiently for the day they announce 'Doctor Who on The Planet of the Apes'.


If you want your BUSINESS to be part of something bigger than itself, you might be a good fit to partner with Monkeys Fighting Robots.

Review: Controlled Mayhem In STRONGHOLD #3 3


Review: Controlled Mayhem In STRONGHOLD #3 4

Are you a creator looking for a review of your book?
Use the form below to end us a message.

Are you a fan of the website and have a comment, question, or concern? Drop us a line, and we will gladly answer all your questions.


Monkeys Fighting Robots is looking for passionate writers to drive the site’s coverage of the comic book industry. Authors will be responsible for a particular niche, providing reviews, opinion and news coverage, while building a reader community using his or her multimedia storytelling skills. The best candidates have solid writing skills, WordPress knowledge, and are engaged on social media. Do you love comic books and have a strong opinion, then we would like to speak with you.

Review: Controlled Mayhem In STRONGHOLD #3 5


COMIC REVIEW DIGEST, sign up today! At Monkeys Fighting Robots, we strive to talk about ALL aspects of a comic book, instead of just giving you a recap of the story.
  • Did you notice how epic the colors were?
  • That was a wicked panel layout by the artist!
  • What was the letterer thinking?
  • How did this comic book make you feel?
  • Most importantly, should you buy it?

Every Wednesday you will receive an email with our latest reviews and analyses, as well as our original comic strips and exclusive editorial content.
Thanks for signing up!