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Awaken (Stronghold #1 Review)


Writer: Phil Hester

Artist: Ryan Kelly

Letterer: Simon Bowland

Colorist: Dee Cunniffe

Publisher: Aftershock

Rating 9/10 

The trope of discovering superpowers by accident has been apart of comic book history for decades, that is essentially how we are introduced to our main character, Michael Grey. One day as he is taking the bus home from work, he witnesses a car accident on the bridge.This is when Michael, without thinking, gets the urge to plunge off the bridge and into the icy depths to save a trapped little girl. He rips off the car door and brings her to safety. When the Firefighter tries to bring Michael up to safety he instead, slips back beneath the waves, and walks home under the water. His life is so mundane that he has to watch the news to see if what happened wasn’t merely a dream, and when he does it affirms what transpired but he brushes it off. Why anyone would do that? I haven’t a clue, I feel like my mind would be racing with a million questions, but then who will he tell?

Now, the meat and potatoes of the story starts when we are introduced to Claire, she is returning to her family, a secret order called The Stronghold after a year long hiatus. These people mean business, they have been tasked with protecting, and surveilling an entity called The Primacy, an all powerful deity, with the power to end life as we know it, which is lying dormant within Michael, completely unbeknownst to him. Claire is essentially the catalyst for things to come. She has grown up in The Stronghold and her father, in fact, is one of the leaders and her mother being the second. I will say this part was not completely clear to me, I was a little confused as to whether the Hold Mother was her actual biological mother or more of a hive mother for the entire StrongHold. In any case, Claire’s mother challenges her strength and we become aware of the fact that the members of The StrongHold have been imbued with a sentient nanotech DNA structure which gives them superhuman abilities that allows their body to shift into any kind of metal weapon and shift the metal around them, making them the perfect soldiers of their cause.

We then see just how deeply Michaels life has been infiltrated by these followers of him, his therapist is the Hold Mother of the cult and Claire is the delivery person at his Insurance firm. When they meet again for the first time in a year, (remember she was on hiatus) Michael asks Claire on a date to which she accepts. Claire is then confronted by the Hold Mother, who reminds her of the purpose of the infiltration, to keep the power within the Primacy dormant. While on the date, Claire unloads everything she knows about Michael and the StrongHold, and purposely puts him in danger so that he has to accept this truth about him and he finally sees it for himself.

What I like the most so far from this is that we are getting so much information about our main character and yet i get the sense that there is still so much we don’t know yet. The fact that Claire has been apart of the Stronghold her entire life and still isn’t sure where her allegiances lie gives her the opportunity to come on the journey with us, as if we’re all starting from the same reference point and I love that. The issues that follow are sure to include government conspiracies and an actual alien invasion that result in the Primacy becoming fully aware and I’m interested to see where that will take Michael and Claire on their journey for the truth.

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