by Joshua Williamson, Andrei Bressan and Adriano Lucas
Recently, going through the long list of monthly pulls that end up being purchased each month, the title Birthright caught my attention. It caught my attention not during the list review, but at the end of it, after fates were decided and books were either cut or kept. Why did it stand out after making those choices? The answer turned out to be relatively simple: there was no way in hell Birthright was going to be cut from that list. It didn’t even register and the name was passed over. That is the measure of a good book; of the strength of it, only two short issue in.
Without a doubt, this is Joshua Williamson’s best work so far in his career. A career that has titles like Masks and Mobsters, Nailbiter, Ghosted and so many more and already Birthright has outshined them all. That’s not to say, of course, that those other titles are inferior or that he isn’t trying as hard or caring as much, not at all. Williamson might have simply struck gold, at least for this reviewer, and in doing so he’s created something that just casts a shadow across everything else he’s done. This world he’s created has depth and it has careful planning and design; it’s not one of those overnight ideas that turned into a comic the next day. He’s clearly spent a long time planning this out, and you could bet money that he has notebooks, or something similar, filled with ideas and histories and plans for Birthright. It shows in three short issues. It shows in the way he’s shaping Mikey as a youngster and how he depicts him as a barbarous adult hell-bent on one goal. It shows in the family dynamic, or lack thereof at this point, and it shows in the heart that he’s instilled in Mikey’s father, even after the worst year of his life and undoubtedly it’ll show in the issues to come. Williamson is on one hell of a roll right now and with books like this, and the other books mentioned—aside from Masks which has ended—2015 is his for the taking.
If the care and consideration in Williamson’s writing is bright, the care, consideration and skill of artist and co-creator Andrei Bressan is blinding. The depth of design into these characters is staggering. Just stop and look at Mikey in the first few panels, as a grown up, as he escapes from the police station. Look at the expressions on his face, look at his clever, subtle magical sword that doesn’t kill unless he wills it to. Look at his monster designs and the world he’s designed; look at Kallista and her crazy-ass mount. It’s beautiful, deadly, perfectly designed and every bit of thought and consideration has gone into it, just like the work from Williamson. Since we’re talking about Kallista, let’s talk about Adriano Lucas’ colors on those pages where she easily dispatches that catlike creature that springs out at her. Look at the stark red constructing the desolate white of the snowy background followed by the sick green of whatever spell she uses to essentially tear the meat from the bone. It’s just so visually stunning that you can’t help but gape in awe like an idiot at it.
There’s a lot more to come from Birthright and a lot more questions to be answered. What is really happening with Mikey, what, if anything, does the final page mean for the next issue? How the hell can this creative team top themselves? So many questions left unanswered, but not in a negative way. Williamson is giving just enough each issue to leave you hooked, and hooked hard. He along with Bressan and Lucas are going to continue to kick you in the face and give you everything they have issue after issue and you’ll thank them for it and beg for more. Birthright is a legitimate contender to become one of Image’s top books, if it’s not considered that already. I guarantee you that if you read this book it will blow you away and make you question why you didn’t pick it up in the first place.