Written by: Joshua Williamson (@William_Josh)
Art by: Andrei Bressan (@AndreiBressan)
Colours by: Adriano Lucas
Letters by: Pat Brosseau
Published by Image Comics
Birthright is back and we continue the journey right where we left off last month. Mickey Rhodes, Wendy and Aaron’s youngest son, goes missing and months later he reappears… only he looks less like the young boy he was and more like Conan the Barbarian. What exactly happened to this kid and why are we compelled to find out? Joshua Williamson has proven time and time again with Ghosted and Nailbiter that he can take typical, almost generic tropes in fiction and transform them into the unexpected and new. The hero’s journey is the Fantasy story staple and Williamson explores this story-telling trope by examining the real effects of the family left behind and the consequences of what happens if the hero doesn’t succeed. Mickey’s journey in the far-off fantasy world appears to be over but the Rhodes family is still dealing with the aftermath.
Aaron believes that the Conan-wannabe is really his son; Wendy thinks the whole situation is insane, and the most level-headed one in the family, Brennan, just wants his brother back. This dynamic plays out in the beginning of the issue and allows for the other half of the story to play out: the flashback. Mickey wants to prove his story and he does so by trying to impress Brennan with a tale about his childhood. If you’ve been keeping up with the series, and by keeping up I mean you read the last issue, you know that Mickey’s desperation is fuelled by sinister machinations. He’s not really what he says he is but we still want to believe. At least I do. I also really want to know what exactly led him to this point. What was the big battle? Why did he lose? What happened to the world he left?
The untrustworthy narrator is a familiar trope in literature and it’s exciting to see it play out in comics this way. The family dynamic, which was what initially sold me about the series, was a bit weaker this time around, despite it being the focus in the first couple of pages. The dialogue between and surrounding the parents, Wendy and Aaron, were particularly the points that brought down the issue a bit. Brennan’s time in the spotlight read so much better and luckily that took over for the most part.
Andrei Bressan’s art is incredibly visceral especially in the action scenes. You really feel Mickey’s power just explode and he’s equal parts Superman and scary Jedi (or Sith…?). The panel sequences and layouts were solid, helping the pacing seem cohesive and consistent despite the flashbacks. Some panel closeups on faces are off and a bit unsettling and I’m unsure as to if it was intentional or not. What I love more than anything art-wise though are the effects. Weather effects like snow or electricity just pop out the page and that’s a testament to Adriano Lucas’ colours. They are absolutely incredible. Flashes of red tones in the action shots really make the sinister undercurrent reverberate even as we cheer Mickey on.
Buy. The comic book world is no stranger to the Hero’s journey. Williamson and Bressan put their own spin on it and it is actually really intriguing. It’s by no means a perfect issue but it’s a solid continuation of a great debut and I’m excited to see where the series is headed. If you loved the first issue, this second one is doesn’t disappoint.