Ah, the smell of a brand new series and all the possibilities and potential it may contain within. From Joshua Williamson (the man behind Nailbiter) and artist Andrei Bressan, we got Birthright. Let’s see what we got; is it good?
Birthright #1 (Image Comics)
On the day of the Mikey Rhodes’ birthday, every single thing changed for the Rhodes’ family. While out at the local park with his dad, Mikey disappeared into the woods and was nowhere to be found. The entire family suffered a major loss and it left them in shambles. However, one year later, they get an answer they were never expecting…
Rule 1 about parenting: Answering the phone while playing catch may lead to problems.
This comic is off to a solid start, I must say. The story is great here, feeling very realistic. The first half of the book feels like a realistic depiction of a family after the loss/disappearance of a kid, really hitting you hard with the emotion, drama, and turmoil, while also making you sympathize with the father since you do know what really happened and know that this wasn’t his fault. Then came the second half where the story changes. It still feels realistic to a certain extent, but brings in more fantasy-like elements that really seals the deal. It makes you want to know more and see what happens next for the family after this dramatic surprise. Plus the ending really only strengthens the story and the audience’s interest in continuing with it.
Character-wise, it’s a bit harder to say. The story does a great job humanizing the family and makes us empathize and them, but we don’t get to spend much time with them individually. We see a great evolution (or is it devolution) of the family structure over the course of the story from where they start and where they end, but I think I would have liked to see more of them by themselves—especially the mother, since she doesn’t get nearly as much focus as the dad or the older brother. As for Mikey himself and the mysterious stranger, again, hard to say as well considering how little we really got to the know them, especially considering the ending of the book. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more development of these characters by themselves at the story goes on.
The writing on the book is pretty good. The pacing and story structure are excellent here, especially during the first half. It knows exactly how much to show and not to show, while never slowing down during it all. The dialogue is great and is very engaging at points, in particular during the second half. The emotion and human element feel real, really helping the audience relate to the characters’ pain. The characters weren’t fully explored individually, but there was enough characterization to show what kind of people they were and how they were feeling. It was great stuff overall, even if the issue was, admittedly, just setup.
The artwork, however, I’m mixed on. It’s certainly not a bad looking book at all. The layouts are good, the detail is great, the coloring is solid, and the more fantastical designs are nice. What I’m mixed about are the characters and the distance. What I mean by distance is that the farther the characters or objects are away in the panel, the less detailed they are. The characters tend to suffer a lot in that particular area and the facial expressions can be iffy in areas. These parts look off and weird in different areas honestly. They’re not deal breakers, but they did stand out to me as I was reading it.
Is It Good?
Birthright is off to a fantastic start with a great setup, a strong family dynamic that should be interesting to see going forward, strong writing, and solid artwork. There are some things that I would have liked to see more of in this first issue, but for what we got, we had a great first outing. Hopefully the next issue lives up to the potential we’ve seen here.