"Birthright #2" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Andrei Bressan
2014, 32 Pages, $2.99
Comic released on November 5th, 2014
After one of the strongest debut issues in recent memory, Birthright continues with the now fully-grown Mikey returning to our world after spending twenty years in the fantasy land of Terranos. There are spoilers ahead for the first issue, but if you haven't read that yet, you're missing out. There was already a great hook in Birthright, with the fact that Mikey's family was torn apart by his disappearance and now they don't know what to make of the sudden appearance of a twenty-something version of their little boy after he was missing for a year. That would have been enough to create an emotional story about this group of people with a heavy fantasy element.
Then writer Joshua Williamson added a major twist. He took the concept of those great adventure stories of our youth like The Neverending Story, in which a kid is destined to be the hero of a magical world, and he changed the outcome. What if the young boy wasn't the hero he was destined to be? What if he couldn't defeat the great evil? What does he do instead? The God King Lore is now along for the ride with Mikey in our world, and we've never encountered anything like this in these parts.
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This adds an entirely new wrinkle to Mikey's story. He's not just a soldier returning home to his family after a long war. He's a fallen hero that made a decision that has brought a dark force of evil to a whole new plane of existence. The reasons for this choice have yet to be revealed, but I'm definitely intrigued. Lore is presented as this swirling red liquid that surrounds Mikey's head at times, whispering in his ear like a bad conscience.
Despite this dark passenger riding shotgun, Mikey still seems to want nothing more than to see his family. He hasn't seen them for twenty years, as he was off having adventures in Terranos. Although he's a huge barbarian of a man now, there's a childlike look in his eyes that comes out the moment he catches a glimpse of his older brother Brennan. He instantly transforms to that little eight-year-old, if only for a brief moment.
This issue provides a few more flashbacks to Mikey's time in Terranos. This little kid is suddenly thrust into a war including many different creatures and told he's the hero that they've all been waiting for. Artist Andrei Bressan does a fantastic job bringing this world to life. While there are elements seen in traditional fantasy stories, this world comes across as entirely unique. There are also these subtle moments built in, like when Mikey is watching two winged children spar in the air while he's building a castle out of snow. Even though his entire status quo has been drastically changed, he's still a child and he can still find time to enjoy things like this.
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The opening of the book also features a jab at one of the more ridiculous notions in fantasy games: the inventory. Mikey was picked up by the FBI carrying quite a few weapons. There's an almost full page spread that shows everything sprawled across a huge table including a massive sword, hammers, a shield, and more daggers than I can count. The FBI agent calls it an arsenal. This is hilarious because in many fantasy games or RPGs, you can walk around with all this stuff and more and there's no question as to how you're able to carry it all on your back.
Birthright continues with a uniquely human spin on a tried and true fantasy element. It's dark at times but also emotional, as this family is turned upside down by the sudden reappearance of their young son whom they had presumed dead. Now their boy is a muscular warrior that has returned to our world literally haunted by a force of evil.