"Birthright #10" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Andrei Bressan
2015, 32 Pages, $2.99
Comic released on August 19th, 2015
Mikey was a boy when he was swept away to the fantasy world of Terrenos. He returned to our realm a man, but he was not alone. Despite the fact that he was the chosen one, he didn't quite defeat the evil God King Lore. Instead, he came back here with his own dark passenger in the form of the Nevermind, a foul being guiding Mikey into the darkness. He's now at odds with this creature in his very body while his brother Brennan looks on and the Diviner, a possible force of good, waits in the wings to attempt to purge Mikey of this corruption at any cost.
If this sounds crazy and exciting, you're right. That's what Birthright is. The series has been building up to some pretty great moments that are packed within this issue. The idea that Mikey got all the way to the final boss battle in his fantasy adventure only to fail is something that has permeated through the comic from the very beginning. It flies in the face of every hero's journey we've seen in popular culture. What makes this even more intriguing is the inclusion of the Nevermind. Mikey took a deal, perhaps in order to get back to his family and to keep the folks in Terrenos safe...but what were his true intentions?
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Mikey is forced to face himself as the Nevermind is at war with the Diviner, ready to rip his body to pieces. This is a terrific scene, as the adult Mikey has to explain his actions to the child version. Can you imagine a conversation like that with yourself? What would you tell the kid version of you, especially if you didn't accomplish the hopes and dreams you had at such a young age? How would you describe the person you've become or the path you've taken in your life? Do you feel you'd have to?
Artist Andrei Bressan did a fantastic job here. There is so much emotion crammed into these panels. Anger, regret, and hatred are just a few, and that's only skimming the surface. It really intensifies the scene, cranking the tension up to eleven. Adult Mikey's body is pulling itself apart as the Nevermind courses through his veins, causing them to bulge across his face and chest. It looks so damn painful. The Nevermind itself has an awesome and terrifying design. It's depicted as this swirling mass of blood that floats around Mikey like his conscience. It takes the form of a demented face as it barks orders at him, reminding Mikey of his position in all this. The Nevermind also graces the cover for this issue, and Bressan delivered a pretty amazing shot that really hammers home the internal struggle that Mikey's going through.
All this is juxtaposed with a flashback scene of young Mikey in Terrenos as he makes his first kill. As the land's hero, he will be forced to kill if he is to achieve his destiny, but he's filled with an immediate sense of remorse after throwing the spear that kills a large animal. The look on his face as he looks down at his hands, covered in blood, is heartbreaking. This is the moment his innocence died.
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This issue delivers some pretty epic pieces of character development that pull the story along dramatically. There is some misdirection at work here as writer Joshua Williamson masterfully lulls you into this false sense of security before yanking the rug out from under you. Remember, this isn't your typical hero's journey. Mikey failed. This is what happens next and it's unlike anything on the stands today. It's easy to forget that and think that everything is going to resolve itself with a nice little bow on top.
Birthright manages to mix emotional family drama with incredible action and an epic fantasy world. It's a damn good story with gorgeous artwork. There's so much heart contained within these pages, which makes the characters' adventures that much harder to witness. I've become attached to these people and I'm truly concerned for what the future holds for them, as the forecast is rather dark.