Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan's "Birthright" #5 continues to tell a twisted version of a familiar tale, where a young boy is whisked off to a fantasy world to be its savior. While the readers are the only one who know that Mikey sold his soul to the side of evil in order to return to Earth, the seeds are finally being set for someone else to uncover the truth.
That's an important step forward in "Birthright" #5, because it certainly would have been easy for Williamson to stretch out the lack of comprehension on Brennan's part as well as what really happened to his brother Mikey on Terrenos. While Brennan doesn't fully understand yet, that initial step is taken as a direct result of Mikey's assault on the one sorcerer that he's been able to find so far. Without this shift eventually happening, the problem is that you run the risk of readers getting frustrated with the heroes being led by someone who is ultimately the antagonist of the series. It's a great initial "gotcha!" twist, but it's not sustainable in the long run; who wants to read about nice people being continually tricked by a corrupted member of their family, after all? Williamson clearly understands this and it's a relief.
In the meantime, though, the battle between Mikey and the sorcerer Ward is impressive, thanks both to Williamson and Bressan. I love watching the plant life attack Mikey; Bressan and Adriano Lucas draw it in a lush, green, flowing manner that comes across with far more strength than a scene like this would normally contain. When Mikey finally takes down Ward, it's a powerful scene; the thrust, the crumpling of Ward, the expressions on Mikey's family all feed into that moment. It's a suitably dark and creepy moment, with Bressan giving it a suitable emotional punch. In many ways, it's the point of no return for Mikey, and we get that from the art.
"Birthright" #5 continues this title on a good path, and Williamson and Bressan continue to give us some fun surprises, like the dramatic (both in terms of writing and also art) reveal on the final page of this issue. This is a series that feels like it's moving in the right direction and with just the right pacing. I'll be back for more.