One of the problems that comes with traditional genre stories “now what?” narratives is that it trying to make it last beyond its simple thought experiment is difficult. Birthright’s story follows the Rhodes family whose lives are thrown into turmoil when the younger son Mickey goes missing in the woods. One year later, Mickey returns but now a fully grown man and an arsenal that would turn Conan green. He claims to have been whisked away to a realm called Terrenos as the prophesied chosen one to end the reign of the nightmarish God King Lore. However, it seems at some point Mickey strode from the true path, now manipulated to serve Lore in the invasion of Earth. With the “older” Rhodes son Brennan traveling with Mickey through the wilderness and the recently divorced Aaron and Wendy in FBI custody, the salvation of Earth must come from the denizens of Terrenos, else Lore may extend his will over all.
This issue is a break from formula in some ways. While there are flashbacks to Mickey’s time on Terrenos, it’s less of a story and more just snap shots. Give Williamson credit as he makes the eyedropping of Mickey’s backstory compelling and mysterious that it reads as build up to a completely game changing twist. Not much actually happens this issue, instead the book gives the cast a change to breathe after the drama heavy installment last time around. Brennan continues to grow suspicious that his brother is more than he seems and his final revelation is likely due in a month or two. The parental Rhodes have some time to bond as well. It’s rare in comics to see two adults question how well they function as parents. Wendy’s had very little time to herself and often comes off as the bossy mom but she receives some much needed time to talk this month. This all leads up to what will hopefully be some more high fantasy magic fights going down on Earth as Williamson clearly has more story to tell.
The art in this issue is somewhat of an oddity. Andrei Bressan cuts down on his affinity for visceral gore and twisted monsters (though there is a healthy helping of it) for a more woodland look straight out of a tourism pamphlet. It shows his range as an artist and helps the reader prepare for the storm to come. Bressan also shows off his talent in drawing wildlife, not to mention he communicates many subtleties through Brennan’s face and body.
Birthright continues its path as a bizarre genre experiment and if this issue is any indication, it’s going in the right direction. This month is a considerably slower issue but it’s a great set up for what new challenges lie ahead for the Rhodes family. It’s a definite winner.