REVIEW: Birthright #14

Writer: Joshua Williamson

Artist: Andrei Bressan

Colourist: Ariando Lucas

Release Date: 17/02/16

Publisher: Image Comics

QUICK REVIEW HAIKU

Releases tension

Clever use of perspective

Teases small details

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Taking what has arguably been building from the very first issue, Brennan and Mikey finally have the brotherly confrontation that they’ve needed. Since Brennan was revealed to have been possessed by The Diviner a few months ago, those doubts that he’d been harbouring about the validity of the narrative that Mikey was constructing were able to rise straight to the surface. All of this is guided through by the ever-adept hand of Andrei Bressan, who continues to show, from his creative ways of looking at a scene, how broad the scope of this adventure has become.

Wide panels and large spreads are often not used to their full potential; they shouldn’t be wasted on mundane activities and have a defined purpose. Bressan takes a wide shot and uses that to cram as much information as he can into a moment. Not only does it allow the reader to have implicit realisations about certain character qualities, it allows the most eagle-eyed to see the precursors to a future plot point. One scene in particular, moments after the aforementioned confrontation, a larger panel contains a little spy in the back corner, pre-empting his explicit appearance later on that page. All of this improves the overall connectivity of the plot and prevents all of the character transitions from feeling as jarring.

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The tension and mistrust that’s been visible just under the surface for the past ten issues surfaces in a very believable way. Brennan demonstrates his immaturity by shouting the thoughts that have clearly been percolating around his head for some time and then descending into physical violence. In a very classically brotherly way, he knows the exact buttons to push to ensure that he gets a rise from Mikey. Throughout the entire situation, there is no doubt in your mind that these are brothers who need the chance to grow up. Mikey might look physically older, but he quickly demonstrates that he’s still lacking that emotional maturity.

A character that continues to show an astounding amount of emotional maturity in spite of the situation is Mikey’s mother: NAME. After initially being written as the skeptic, understandably, watching her adventures with Rya unfold is as compelling as the main plot. Often, female characters are written as subsidiaries to the male protagonist and I absolutely love that this B-plot has two strong, compelling and independently capable female characters striving to understand a situation that doesn’t make sense. NAME is dedicated to finding her family and works well against the brash and foolhardy Rya as they both come to realise that their mission isn’t what they expected it to be.

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Lucas sets up the feel of each new location perfectly. The fight in the alleyway is poorly lit and is covered in dark blues, whereas the conversation in a diner has an almost sickly bright aspect to each colour that there’s no doubt where you are. For an issue that takes places entirely in the real world, there’s a surprising mystical feel to a lot of panels. By highlighting the more magical parts of a character, such as Mikey and Rya’s green tattoos or the gems found on a number of others, they stand out against the regular colours of the world that you maintain that sense of wonder, even in the most regular of places.

After spending months developing the relationship between the two brothers pushing the main narrative forwards, Williamson starts to reveal how their dynamic is going to grow. This story by no definiton feels like it’s reaching a conclusion and is instead setting up an escalating narrative that appears to be pushing the most frail of people into the firing line. Setting up real consequences for the members of this troubled family, it shows off how long form content was supposed to be created. Teaming up with an artistic team that are so in sync allows a beautifully woven story where even the plot grounded in a more realistic setting retains its magical aesthetic. Everything is coming together to create a masterpiece of a fantasy story that’s strapped me in for the long haul.

FINAL SCORE: 8/10

1794510_10152296358040871_1273862368_n Written by Mark Dickson

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