You’ve Never Seen A Sibling Rivalry Like This One In Birthright #35

by James Ferguson

Under normal circumstances, two brothers fighting wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary. I see it every day in my own home. In the case of Mikey and Brennan, it’s turned into a battle across the city as magic is involved. When you couple that with years of sibling rivalry, it creates a deadly combination. Mikey has to get through to his brother before it’s too late. Magic has a cost and it’s coming due.

Magic has been a presence in Birthright for some time, but not in this direct of a fashion where it affects one of the main characters. This has allowed us to explore it further and understand the rules of it both in this world and in Terrenos. Writer Joshua Williamson bounces between the present on Earth with the fight between the two brothers and Mikey’s early time in Terrenos as he’s learning the ins and outs of magic. It’s telling how one informs the other.

Let’s start with the flashbacks. We saw previously how magic deformed the princess, Zoshanna, who was destined to marry Mikey. That transformation continues, twisted her body into something horrifying. Artist Andrei Bressan turns in some terrifying work here. You can see pieces that were once human, like an arm or an eye, but this is something else entirely. It’s a creature made of muscle and pain.

Since Mikey has seen the devastating effects of magic first hand, he wants his brother to avoid that fate. That means he has to get through to him, cutting through Brennan’s rage and pent up anger about being ignored and looked over since Mikey disappeared. All of that has manifested itself in this abomination that Brennan has become and he’s teetering on the edge of madness.

The battle comes to a head in both violence and emotion as Mikey is pushed past his limits. His daughter is put in danger and he’s forced to attack Brennan, but in an unexpected way. The energy at play in this exchange is heated to the point where the comic itself feels like it’s going to explode. Colorist Adriano Lucas makes this exchange come alive with pulsing blasts of magical power that burst off the page.

Letterer Pat Brosseau gets in on the action too with some dialogue delivered in explosive word balloons, adding to the intensity of the scene. The words exchanged here have some power to them and not just in the magical sense. Everything is delivered in such a way that each statement is allowed to sink in and have a real impact.

Birthright continues its emotional journey with this issue in true pulse-pounding fashion. Every family has its squabbles, but this one is a little more dangerous than most. These characters are joined together by magic and a fantasy world, but that’s not what makes them a family. Their connection runs deeper than that and no evil warlord or magical power can break that. This is what sets Birthright apart and makes it such a dynamite read every single month.

Birthright #35 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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