Mikey’s struggle against the God King Lore continues, however we’re taking a brief moment to learn about the villain’s daughter, Mastema. This is told in a series of flashbacks narrated by Kallista as she entertains a captive Brennan. Up until this point, Lore has been a mystery. We’ve received bits and pieces of his story, but not the full scope. Birthright #31 gives us a new look into this character through the eyes of his daughter.
It’s kind of weird at first to think about Lore being a normal person with a family. Mastema is a quiet, powerful girl full of angst. She rebels against her father in increasingly violent ways. Lore tries to teach her the ways of magic so she can harness and control her powers. This would allow her to one day take over as ruler of Terrenos, but that’s clearly not what Mastema wants.
Lore is a monster, but he’s a caring father to Mastema. While we may see a lighter side to him in some moments, he never lets us forget that he’s a brutal tyrant. His cruel ways are matched in Mastema’s violent tendencies. Her abilities are incredible and create impressive swathes of bloodshed. She is capable of destroying a person in an instant, leaving nothing but a puddle of goo behind.
Artist Andrei Bressan puts an insane amount of detail into these images. You don’t necessarily need to see each individual entrail flying out of a person, but that’s what you’re getting. Mastema’s victims are stretched out and unraveled, like a Slinky that’s been pulled too far. She looks on all the while with a quiet look of contentment. She will not be deterred in her rebellion.
There’s a great mix of blood and fire when it comes to Mastema. Colorist Adriano Lucas gives you an immediate sense of how powerful Mastema is, not just in her actions, but in the energy displayed. One moment things like calm and the next there’s an eruption of supernatural violence. It’s like this girl is a volcano just waiting to erupt.
The pacing of this issue is superb, especially with Mastema’s speech. She says nothing until the end of the story, so at first you’re wondering if she’s mute. Her first words are powerful and speak volumes. Letterer Pat Brosseau makes them pop off the page in a big, bold font. Three words never looked stronger or cut as deep.
All of this would have been great on its own, but adding in Brennan’s kidnapping increases the tension level. We learn about the history of not just Mastema, but Kallista too and that is a deep connection that goes back years. This has been brewing for some time and it’s now spilled over into our world. Brennan’s life is hanging in the balance now, another possible victim in this war.
Writer Joshua Williamson has built an incredible mythos around Birthright. This issue is another chapter that expands this world even further. While Mikey doesn’t even appear in this chapter, the story is still propelled forward as gaps are filled in and other characters are fleshed out. This will undoubtedly make the future issues more impactful as we have a better understanding of what these people are fighting for on both sides.