When it comes to second issues, it’s usually hard to follow through the hype of the first. Most first issues offer the world to readers, only to fumble on the follow-through. There are those solid few comic books that do their first chapter better.
Fortress #2 is a surprise. It added details that I did not notice from the first issue and bakes an entire origin story into it too. Its exposition and how it unravels the world around it makes a powerful story for years to come.
The Story and Writing of Fortress "Dreams": It Goes Deeper
Fortress #2 is an indie Australian cyberpunk-action story published by Roam Comics. Titled “Dreams”, the comic book is written and drawn by Joel van der Knaap.
The story follows Itar and Caleb, now in a secret underground bunker. Itar tries to get Caleb up to speed on what happened before he was put to stasis. According to her, Caleb was part of a militia squadron named Fortress and he was the weapon of the group.
On the other hand, Voron receives the head of Old Roy, destroyed and defeated by his minions. He reveals that even if he was unable to catch Caleb, he still has two things that the latter needs to become complete.
Fortress #2 has opened my eyes to a few things that I didn’t catch on my first read. It’s impressive that, with how much I loved the story, that I missed Itar being female. It doesn’t change anything at all, considering how strong of a woman she is.
If anything, I’m more intrigued now what’s the connection between Itar and Caleb. They don’t seem to be friends, but rather Itar is a rebel leader who knew of Fortress’ exploits. As you can see, the story was deep enough to hook me in and pique my interest.
I don’t know how Joel does it but his transitions are smooth. The plot points are clear and the exposition always builds up to something. Every chatter leads to something important, which is what you want in your comic books.
The subtle hints at lack of power and resources tell me about the toll of the recent war. Everyone is scrambling to get the most out of Caleb - even Itar’s faction. The storytelling is quite compelling and I would love to read this story from start to finish.
The Art of Fortress #2: More Green, More Shading
When it comes to the art of Fortress, it kept its consistency from the first issue. The art still plays with the pink and green colour scheme but with a lot less screentone and more inking.
The subtle shift in style works well with the events in Voron’s lair. Inside his lair, there is more darkness, hence more inking and solid shades. The shading is superb, with Joel able to show the icy cold flair of machine and metal.
From how I see the art, it feels that Joel spent most of his time drawing Itar. Her design looks better and better each panel, with her face becoming more expressive.
There’s not a lot of things to say about the art other than how great it is. If I have to nitpick, there are a few panels where the lines are not cleanly presented.
It’s obvious who are the main characters and who are fillers from how confident the lines are. The main characters had more streamlined lines. The fillers have weird loss of quality in them.
Read Fortress #2 Now
Fortress #2 is a must-read. Not only does it build upon what the first issue started, it’s also a great story on its own. If you’ve given issue 1 a read, #2 is a must.
I’m looking towards what happens in Fortress #3. It seems the story shifts from Caleb to the other members of his team, and we’ll find out the mystery of his entire team.
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