After an incredible first arc, “Birthright” returns to stands with the launch of a new arc as Mikey and Brennan are on the lam, evading authorities and trying their best to fulfill the false prophecy Mikey has brought back with him to his family’s Earth. Now that the whos and wheres have been established, Joshua Williamson slows down the action with this tale, allowing new readers to catch up and allow the action established in the previous arc a chance to settle and breathe. The issue is mostly quiet as the brothers bond while traversing the wilderness, reestablishing family ties while working to quietly fray them in the background. Family has been the biggest theme of this series, and Williamson examines what it means to everyone in the series herein.
To Brennan, family means staying with his brother even though he knows that something is wrong. Williamson begins to show the cracks in their relationship as Brennan recognizes the odd scars Mikey has and must process Mikey’s actions when the two are hunted by a bear. Andrei Bressan illustrates the encounter with beautiful realism, his bear realistically rendered in a way that adds weight to its shocking death as Mikey shows Brennan the laws of the jungle he’s learned in his time away. Brennan has enjoyed the adventurous nature of their escapades to this point, running through the forest with broadswords and talking about high action, but seeing Mikey end the bear’s life — a creature who allowed itself to let its guard down in their presence — jolts the teen back to the reality of his present moment; Bressan gives Brennan’s reaction the right amount of fear and shock, realizing that he may be in over his head.
For Aaron, family has meant he was right. The father had long held to the belief that Mikey was alive somewhere and being able to help his child in any fashion has absolved the man of the guilt in which he had been drowning himself. He still refuses to believe the truth, even as authorities disbelieve Mikey’s true identity and intentions. Being right has blinded Aaron to the truth of the situation and it may cost him everything he holds dear. He has sent his last son out into the wild with a destructive force of nature simply because it released the guilt he’d felt for so long. For Wendy, family means security, security in knowing that the world is what she thought it was. Since Mikey’s disappearance, she has lashed out as much as Aaron withdrew and, now that Mikey is back, she is tenuously trying to rebuild the pieces of the life upended by his disappearance. She begins to let her guard down with Aaron in a quiet moment that Williamson punctuates with just the right dialogue that lets readers feel both happy and dreadful for the couple, knowing Mikey’s true intentions.
For Mikey, family is the gateway to destruction. Bressan gives a good look at his master, the God King Lore, in an absolutely terrifying two-page spread. The detail and the sheer invasion of space the illustration creates is a searing image. One would have to imagine this is what Mikey flashes back to in his head constantly. It’s difficult to say what the future will hold for the protagonist; there’s hope that family will be the thing that breaks his connection to Lore, but readers still don’t know the extent of his possession.
“Birthright” #6 is a bridge issue, a brief rest in the story as the creative team builds from one story to the next. The characters were on the move so much in the first five issues that Williamson needed a chance to slow them down and bounce them off one another to find out who they are. It’s a good character issue for fans of the book and a good jumping on point for new readers.