I recently caught up on Birthright just in time for its fourth arc to begin. Last time, we got hit with a rather surprising cliffhanger that raised a lot of questions and opened the door for a lot of theories. Let’s see how things progress after that revelation. Is it good?
Birthright #16 (Image Comics)
Mikey is still recovering from the wounds he received after the big fight with the police, now being taken into the lair of Sameal for treatment. Also taken along for the ride are his father and brother… but even bigger news? Sameal happens to be his grandfather. Things are going to be a bit awkward…
Birthright is that it feels like a consistently good serialized TV series. Each new issue is an episode or so of a primetime cable show, with new small developments that move storylines forward while progressing one portion of the story significantly at a time. The latest issue is no different: We get some more development with the mages, Mikey’s mother and lover, the father and brother, and then get hit with a major cliffhanger that builds up the threat of the Nevermind in Mikey. It always feels like you leave an issue having gotten a lot from the story, even if this wasn’t the biggest or most eventful issue we’ve had so far.
Joshua Williamson’s writing overall on the book is consistently good. The pacing and storytelling were both just right–every scene served a purpose on some level and stuck around for just long enough so that it didn’t get tiring. The characterization was excellent as well, and everyone felt human. There’s a lot of drama and emotional bits in the issue, in particular with the guys in Samael’s bunker as they reflect on past mistakes, where they are now, and why one of them wasn’t there when they needed help. Every reaction, bit of resentment, or worry feels believable given what we’ve seen and what we know, like when someone gets decked in the face. The dialogue is engaging and well done, which helped add to the believability on display. It’s just great from start to finish, even if the issue wasn’t as action-packed as usual.
Andrei Bressan continues doing art on the series and as always, it looks great. While we didn’t see much of Terrenos like in other issues, Bressan was still able to draw some beautiful and memorable looking mystical items, a fantastical location with Sameal’s bunker (loved the double page spread and the one where the characters descended down the staircase), and some well detailed and eye-catching magic. The characters are drawn pretty well and are very expressive, though their heads do occasionally look too small for their bodies (or their eyes disappear like 90s style art). The layouts are put together well, both easy to follow and help depict natural motion and movement in the characters. Also, the coloring by Adriano Lucas was rather nice–both bright and colorful, helping to depict how incredible and fantastical looking the magic can be. Of interesting note, Lucas also colored this week’s Detective Comics and his style looked very different there. Props to a colorist who is flexible when it comes to being able to capture different types of mood, energy, and tone (seriously did not realize the work was done by the same people until I saw the credits).
Is It Good?
Birthright #16 was a good return for the series after its small break. While there’s often not a lot to discuss on each issue individually, the series still remains one of the most consistently enjoyable and well written books on the stands from any company. Definitely give it a look if you haven’t already, especially now that there are three trade collections worth of story already available.