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Stronghold

18/08/2016 - Book 4, Reviews
Stronghold

Script: John Arcudi

Pencils: Doug Mahnke

Inks: Jimmy Palmiotti, Doug Mahnke

Lettering: Ellie De Ville

Cover illustration: Duncan Fegredo

 

 

Synopsis

A resupply mission to a remote research base is a cover for an investigation into the eccentric Dr Nordling. Will the truth be uncovered?

Review

Stronghold sees us back in familiar territory in the Aliens universe the “Mad scientist/Secret base” storyline.  Though the plot follows the formula to the letter, it has some interesting and original angles.

The Aliens are very much in the background of this story until the final act, instead the plot is more concerned with Androids and Asimov’s laws.

The most noted part of this story is Jeri the Alien Android who can actually talk and reason. So in a way, an Alien is actually on the heroes’ side for a change!

The story has some problems; notably a fairly week plot that revolves around corporate theft and a fairly lacklustre villain in Dr Nordling. Unfortunately it appears that the writer couldn’t decide what to do with his character. He switches from being repugnant and immoral to being mentally unhinged, that he is only a petty thief also degrades the character, surely as a leading biologist his research would be worth far more than a scam to sell Alien eggs!

However it is Nordlings’ relationship with his Androids that forms the central, most interesting part of the story. Androids, or Synthetics, have been a series trope since Alien (1979), but their role has never been expanded on.  It is a pity then, that the first real story to centre on them should be so feeble.  Nordlings’ maltreatment and misuse of his synthetics has obvious parallels within human society and it’s a shame that this was ignored as the plot just seems to want to get around to shooting Aliens with big guns!

Most of the human characters are fairly boring and two dimensional whilst the synthetics are far more interesting, Jeri the synthetic Alien pretty much steals the show demonstrating how refreshing a new perspective can be within the Aliens universe, but I think this is also aided by the blandness of the plot and other characters.

Artwork is good, though nothing outstanding and I found myself more appreciative of what a competent artist can do after the artwork in the preceding two stories.

Though most of this review has been quite negative, I did enjoy this series, it admittedly has a weak plot and characters but was fast-paced and entertaining.

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