Published on February 4th, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
Birthright #5 – Review
It’s an action packed, gore filled finale for the first arc of Birthright and Mikey isn’t coming out of it in a very good light.
In Terrenos, while he was still a fresh faced youngster lost in a new world, Mikey makes a stand against the creature bearing down on his companions. He faces it with uncertainty, knowing only that he must protect his injured friend but luckily Rook steps in to slice the beast in two. Despite having his life saved Mikey isn’t particularly happy: he mourns the (in his eyes) needless death of the beast and sympathises with it. Rook however has some harsh truths to teach young Mikey and the first is “Death is a part of life. You are going to have to kill some day”. Mikey is adamant that Rook is wrong…
Jump to present day Earth where an older, less innocent, Mikey has engaged Ward the Betrayer in battle. There is some toing and froing and even Aaron and Brennan pitch in to help their family member. But not all is as it seems and Ward knows Mikey’s secret. As the violent battle comes to an end Ward gives Brennan a glimpse of the Nevermind and the young boy is again unsure what to believe when it comes to his brother.
During the fight Aaron is injured so he stays behind to distract the FBI when they turn up to the scene. Mikey and Brennan head out to find the other four Mages left on Earth so that they can be dispatched for the good of the mankind – or so Mikey has Brennan believe.
The first arc end’s with a visitor from Terrenos materialising in the wilderness and a jaw dropping final image seals the cliffhanger ending.
This series has been a solid adventure story from issue 1 and doesn’t let up as the first arc comes to a close. Although a large part of this issue is taken up by the fight scene between Ward and Mikey there is still so much going on. Joshu Williamson has crafted a clever fantasy tale that wraps two stories together to show how a character has grown and been changed by his circumstances. As a child Mikey is frightened but caring: he puts himself at risk to protect someone he barely knows. He finds it difficult to accept the ways of the new world he has found himself in. Even as he comes to accept that he isn’t going home anytime soon, he still retains that glimmer of hope. This is contrasted by the modern day Mikey we see hacking away at the nature controlling mage who is, for the most part, just defending himself. Mikey barely notices that his family are there, even when the father he has fought hard to return to is injured by his reckless actions.
Mikey’s characterisation is the crux of this story because as a reader we support the younger self and, like Aaron and Brennan, we want to believe the older version is the hero. But Williamson doesn’t make it that easy and even at the end of the first arc we do not know what caused the dramatic change in his character. Should we be routing for or against him?
The art work is excellent as usual, with Andrei Bressan capturing the action and the emotion with equal finesse. The violence is fairly graphic and uncomfortable and at no point does it become cartoony. This adds weight to the expressive emotional outbursts, especially from the child characters in the story. Bressan really makes the reader feel for the young Mikey and Brennan and that’s why this fantasy works so well. It has an emotional hook for the reader that won’t come loose no matter how much you tug. You find yourself wanting the next issue just to make sure that the young boys are okay. Unfortunately it’s a bit of a wait for issue six as Birthright takes a short hiatus but I’m sure they’ll all be fine when the comic returns in April.
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artists: Andrei Bressan