Birthright: A Tale With A Twist [Close Read]
December 11, 2015
BIRTHRIGHT is about family, destiny, tragedy, nature, nurture, fantasy, and more. The hook is a good one: Aaron, father of Brennan and Mikey and husband to Wendy, is out playing catch with Mikey in the woods when his son disappears without a trace. A manhunt follows, fails to find the boy, and ruin follows over the course of the next year...until the boy returns, now a fully-grown man. And not just any fully-grown man. Little Mikey has long hair, a full beard, and more muscles than Popeye bench-pressing Bluto at Gold's Gym.
Mikey slipped into another world, Terrenos, one of dragons and trolls and monsters and beasts, and grew into his own under the guidance of the denizens of that realm. He came back to Earth to finish the job he started over there—to wipe out what remains of the evil forces infesting the other world.
And see? That's a hook. It's a good take on both "chosen one"-type stories, fish out of water tales, and family dramas. Bressan & Williamson keep Mikey's family at the core of the book, lending the series a lot of heart, too. If the disappearance of Mikey tore his family apart, his reappearance only makes things worse. Aaron recognizes him immediately and claims the adult Mikey as his son, infuriating Wendy. Brennan is confused and disbelieving, too. BIRTHRIGHT pushes one question to the forefront of your mind while reading: Would you believe him, if you were his parents?
The family drama is leavened with flashbacks to Mikey's time in Terrenos. He was taken in by a kindly crew who nonetheless molded him into their champion. Bressan's art shines here, perfectly depicting Mikey's intense sadness, but also pride. Mikey is flexible, like a lot of kids, and since he can't get home yet, he rolls with it. He rolls with it, he saves the day in Terrenos, and he comes home to see his folks after spending years, at least to his perception, away from them.
Together, you've got family drama intermixed with some good old-fashioned sword and sorcery shenanigans. That's just the hook—the twist is that Mikey isn't who he says he is. Sure, he's the son of Aaron and Wendy, and brother to Brennan. He was raised to be a hero by kind-hearted people and creatures in Terrenos. But he didn't come back to Earth to see his parents. He came back to Earth because he's been corrupted by the evil present in Terrenos. He's merely the opening salvo in a coming war, an advance agent sent to prepare the Earth for its coming destruction.
That's how you do a twist, and in BIRTHRIGHT, it's merely meant to whet your appetite. Williamson & Bressan already cooked up a good hook with the long-lost son returning changed, but the twist is what makes you sit up and pay attention.
If you aren't reading BIRTHRIGHT, you absolutely should be. For a closer look at Bressan's artwork, check out this art gallery.