Sibling Rivalries Get Violent When Magic’s Involved In Birthright #33

by James Ferguson

Brennan’s magic training continues, but will it pull him away from his family? There is a cost to all this power. Meanwhile, Mikey recalls his first exposure to magic while in Terrenos and it’s a story of terror and tragedy. The lessons he learned there will help him find his brother, but it might be too late to stop him.

While Birthright deals with tropes of the fantasy genre, what continues to elevate the title is the familial relationships. Mikey, Brennan, and their parents feel real. They interact and talk to each other like a normal family which makes them so very relatable. This makes the dire situations they’ve been put through all the more harrowing.

There’s also a bit of sibling rivalry at work, particularly in Birthright #33. Brennan carries some resentment towards Mikey, even from before he was whisked away to Terrenos. After Mikey disappeared, his parents were consumed with finding him and Brennan was sort of forgotten. This is told in a fantastic sequence, where artist Andrei Bressan breaks up the page into twelve panels, each showing a piece of Brennan’s increasing rage.

The range of emotion at work is incredible. Brennan was sad that his brother had vanished, but that quickly turned to anger at him, his parents, and the world. He became so very lonely. Bressan shows this well in each image, even when Brennan is with a group of people or his parents, he still looks like he’s by himself.

By channeling this anger and pain, he’s able to tap into his magical abilities. The power flows through him with this really cool effect from colorist Adriano Lucas. It’s a fiery red that explodes out of Brennan’s arms and eyes in a rather violent manner. This is dangerous stuff and it shows. The texture looks like something completely foreign, which plays into the overall story as magic is still relatively new to Earth.

Brennan’s story is just part of the tale in Birthright #33. We also get a sizable flashback to one of Mikey’s early adventures in Terrenos and his first real encounter with magic. I’m glad we’re getting this scene now instead of earlier on as we’re able to read a lot more into it, especially the interaction between him and his future wife, Rya. The two are much younger here, but there’s still some jealousy at work as Mikey is prophesied to wed a weak princess who’s along for the ride.

I’ll never get tired of Bressan’s depictions of Terrenos. Every time we go there, we’re treated to a huge spread of a gorgeous fantasy landscape. This one is a little more treacherous than those we’ve seen before as it’s a desert plain. There’s an ominous castle in the center. This is something that should be printed up and framed.

The jaw-dropping landscape gives way to Ramal, the man responsible for training countless magic users in Terrenos. He’s a terrifying force from the first moment you see him. Letterer Pat Brosseau gives him a foreboding and powerful quality with the font used. His words don’t appear in word balloons. Instead, they just kind of float through the air, like he’s speaking to Mikey telepathically instead of with his mouth.

Birthright #33 builds to an action-packed confrontation that we’ll see play out in the next chapter. For now, we get a peek into the inner workings of two of the main characters to get a better understanding of how they tick and what makes them who they are. It’s saying something that we can still learn more about these people after thirty plus issues. Writer Joshua Williamson has been pacing this out wonderfully, developing the characters into very real people that I’m very much invested in.

Birthright #33 from Image Comics and Skybound Entertainment is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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