Written by: Joshua Williamson
Published by: Image Comics
The layers of this series are sublime. This book is working on so many levels and it continues to improve with each installment. This third issue of Birthright uses the familiar motif of present day struggle coupled with flashbacks. This tag-team approach has been used by writer Joshua Williamson and artist Andrei Bressan to sterling effect. They have managed to build not just a compelling fantasy world – something incredibly hard to do in comics – but added a depth of intrigue to the real world story as well as effectively capture the joyous reuniting of a family after a terrible loss. This series has so much going for it right now.
Bressan and colorist Adriano Lucas really let loose this issue with the visuals. The present day portion of the tale features some impressive action sequences that look totally bad-ass. Bressan’s framing and sense of timing is impeccable and his rendering of difficult angles and actions look superb. The fantasy elements are truly awe-inspiring, delivering the best panels of the series so far. The appearance of vicious monsters and the emergence of a wickedly designed villain combined to help put Birthright on an artistic level I wasn’t sure it could attain.
Finding a fault in this issue is pretty difficult. Williamson has really connected with his characters and the story and Bressan’s rendering of the book, despite two very contrasting settings, is impressive. Many books would struggle to do just one half of this story right, yet this creative team has managed to overcome what could have been a muddled story and poorly coupled visuals to present a world worthy of your attention.
If they’ve sacrificed anything to build the world and characters it’s pacing. As is so common with stories that spend half their time looking back instead of forward, you see only a little bit of movement in the overall story. If Williamson and Bressan focused only on Mikey’s adventure as a child the events of this issue would probably have come at the end of an extended debut issue. Instead we’re three issues in. Individual readers will undoubtedly react to this differently. While we are seeing the story drag on a bit, it’s tough to count that against this series because it’s been so damn good.