Mikey and his family are at a crossroads. Brennan has been kidnapped by Kallista and they have to go after him, but that means using magic. Mikey is resistant to this as he’s just been freed from the Nevermind and he doesn’t want anything to do with magic. He may have no choice in the matter.
We’ve been along for the ride with Mikey for some time so we’re already pretty invested in his life and those around him. I’m astonished by how each new issue of Birthright further develops the characters and provides these incredible moments. This chapter peers back to a time just after Mikey arrived in Terrenos that’s as beautiful as it is heartbreaking.
Artist Andrei Bressan opens up the scene with a gorgeous double-page spread showing a vast desert with only Mikey and his guardian, Rook marching through the sand. A city can be seen far back in the distance. Colorist Adriano Lucas makes you feel the heat of the sun beating down on them, reflecting off of the bright orange sand. It’s such a great way to set the stage.
What follows is a somber moment as Mikey is joined by Zoshanna and Rya. Rook realizes this young boy, who is destined to grow up to be the Chosen One and save Terrenos, is still just a naïve child. He has to sit down for a heart-to-heart with him and act as the father figure. It’s rather sweet seeing this large ogre of a man try to explain the birds and the bees to a human boy. It shows that despite Rook’s gruff nature, he cares deeply for Mikey.
The scene takes some interesting twists and turns as Mikey lashes out against Rook and then quickly regrets it. I won’t spoil what happens here, but suffice it to say, writer Joshua Williamson plots this out incredibly well. He controls the pacing and the emotional weight of this scene to pull the reader along through this journey that ties you closer to Mikey and all his flaws.
Letterer Pat Brosseau uses this great effect in one of the more harrowing moments. Again, I want to be careful of spoilers, but Brosseau makes the text within a word balloon fade, giving the appearance that the character is getting sucked away. It implies that their voice is getting quieter and tougher to hear and it works very well in the scene.
It’s easy to see how Mikey doesn’t want to deal with magic after it’s led to trauma after trauma in his past. His skills are more of the warrior variety. Bressan’s artwork gets a little humorous at times as this big barbarian of a man basically throws his hands up in desperation. That quickly fades as the anger rises.
Mikey is a warrior through and through and he’s led the charge against Lore, but his situation has changed. He’s joined by his family, which has gotten larger since returning to Earth. That responsibility is shared with his parents, his grandfather, and Rya. The only way they’ll get through this is by doing it together.
That family aspect is one of the driving forces behind Birthright and it’s what makes it such a solid read month-in and month-out. This family finally got Mikey back, albeit in a very unexpected manner. Before they could relish the return of their son, Brennan was taken away. It’s clear that they’re not going to rest until they’re all together again and that’s a pretty noble thought.