There are no fights like those between siblings. Brothers and sisters can beat the living crap out of each other and do it over the dumbest reasons. In the case of Mikey and Brennan, they used to fight over things like video games. Now they’re in a life and death struggle with Brennan hurling magical energy at his little brother who has aged to his mid-twenties and got totally ripped.
Almost the entirety of Birthright #34 consists of this fight and it goes from the past to the present. Writer Joshua Williamson starts years ago showing how these two boys squabbled over things that seem so petty now. It’s a normal, everyday argument and it’s one that countless kids have had over the years. This is just one of the qualities that make these characters feel so real and natural.
When we jump to the present, things are far more dangerous. Brennan has an untold amount of magical power coursing through his veins. For the first time in what feels like forever, he’s the big brother again. His life has been overshadowed by Mikey’s disappearance, followed by his strange return.
We have a basic idea of what magic is and how it works, but not in the context of Birthright. This kind of stuff has rules and Williamson establishes them here. Magic is powered by pain, the more personal the better. We see an example of this in a flashback to Mikey’s time in Terrenos. Artist Andrei Bressan shows the consequences in horrific detail. A woman’s body is twisted into a frightening monstrosity, like an amalgamation of many creatures.
Mikey and his friends are given lessons in magic by a mysterious instructor. His speech floats on the air, like it’s something you might hear on the wind. Letterer Pat Brosseau uses a fiery yellow font that adds to the magical quality of this land and this individual.
Bressan uses this great effect during the fight scenes that creates a blur of sorts. It’s like the power that is on display is so strong that it’s shaking the very page it appears on. This is something that you’d expect in film or television.
Colorist Adriano Lucas adds the final layer of energy to these scenes with the bright reds of Brennan’s powers. They’re like lightning made of blood, pulsing across the page to find its target. It also extends directly out of Brennan’s hands and eyes, almost like a Red Lantern’s rage.
Mikey will do anything to save his brother. He realizes how his actions have led to this and the danger that Brennan is in if he doesn’t break free from this downward spiral. There’s a great two page sequence where Mikey kneels before Brennan, first in the beginning of the battle and then again as he’s battered and bruised. They work as a mirror and show the lengths he’s willing to go.
Birthright delivers another issue packed with solid storytelling and dynamite artwork. It’s driven by family and that comes with the good and the bad. This one just got put back together again and it’s dangerously close to falling apart once more.