Comic Review – Birthright Volume 1: Homecoming (Image Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: Minor spoilers. Especially as I’ll be reviewing a whole volume, you’ll probably know most of the plot of the first issue by the time you finish. But go and buy it anyway (implied spoiler about the score I give it)!

“You think your weapons can stop me? I’ve been trained to battle magic and monsters that if you were ever to see them would make your eyes bleed! It is my fate to save the world and no one will stop me!” Mikey

A couple of months ago I made a huge mistake. I went into Excelsior! Comics in Bristol and asked them for a recommendation. I was told I had to read Birthright written by Joshua Williamson, with art by Andrei Bressan and Adriano Lucas. You know what? They were completely, 100% right. I’m hooked on it and need to pick up another volume as soon as I can.

birthright featured image

Volume One Cover by Bressan & Lucas

Now let me tell you why it’s good. Our hero is a boy and later a man called Mikey. As a kid he had a loving, tight knit family, with caring parents and was best friends with his brother. He goes out for a game of catch with his dad, but the ball goes astray, he chases after it but finds himself in the fantasy world of Terrenos, full of dragons, kingdoms and of course an evil God King called Lore, and yes, he’s the chosen one. Destined to save the world and defeat the evil king. Meanwhile his family search desperately for him but come up blank, eventually the police get involved and the dad is bought into custody, after all he was the last person to see Mikey.

A few years later Mikey has returned to the world, while his older brother is still in school but getting into fights, his parents are divorced and hate each other and his dad a raging alcoholic, Mikey is a fully grown man built to make Arnold Schwarzenegger look tiny and with an arsenal of magical weapons and items that would make any Dungeons & Dragons party cry. He has returned from the world of Terrenos to save our world from a great evil. The story then hops backwards and forwards between the current time in our world and Mikey’s time in Terrenos, showing us what happened to him while he was there and how he grew up in another world. As a world Terrenos is full of wonderful magic, creatures and peoples. The characters there are full of personality and you’re left wanting to know so much more about it.

Birthright art

Art by Bressan & Lucas

I’ll leave it there. There’s more involved, fantastic plot twists and a wonderfully gripping story. Mikey is unsurprisingly treated as a mad man and has such a battle convincing his family he is who he says he is. As well as that the art is incredible, the action scenes are full of the fantastical colour you’d hope for from fantasy combat and both worlds have the perfect feel to them. There’s only so much I can say about it, but the art is absolutely one of the strongest points of this comic.

Final Verdict

This is one of my new favourites. If you like comics and fantasy then you need to try this. It isn’t quite the perfect fairy tale story some of these turn out to be either.

Final Score – 9.25 Flaming Swords out of 10!

Comic Review – Cyborg #1 (DC Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

This week I picked up Cyborg #1 from DC Comics, part of their new ‘DCYou!’ initiative that has seen the launch of a few new titles in the wake of Convergence with a focus on underutilised or slightly more eclectic characters that haven’t had a great deal of focus since the line-wide relauch in 2011. Despite being a member of Justice League line up since then, Cyborg hasn’t had his own book like all the other leaguers until now. Cyborg was written by David F. Walker, pencilled by Ivan Reis, inked by Joe Prado, coloured by Adriano Lucas and lettered by Rob Leigh.

Cyborg opens on a battle in a distant galaxy between two tech-based alien races, the Tekbreakers and the Technosapiens, with one group retreating in the face of an insurmountable enemy that seems able to absorb their defeated prey. Throughout the issue we return to this fight, as a few survivors escape and their pursuers analyse the tech they left behind. This action allows the Earth based scenes room to breathe and to be far more character focused, something that Victor Stone has been lacking in the past few years. Here we see him arriving at STAR labs, against the backdrop of protesters outside, to discuss some of his recent upgrades with his father and his team, and to figure out why his tech seemingly evolved in the face of his impending (or actual) death. While Silas Stone fusses over the intricacies of his implants and what they mean, Victor feels more like a lab animal than a son as his father fails once again to truly pay attention to him, focusing on the science of his son rather than the human being that he still is.

By having all of the action and suspense in this issue take place on a different planet, Walker deftly weaves a narrative around the actual character of Cyborg that takes elements that have been touched on very briefly before and constructing a real emotional core for the book. Victor talks about how he would rather be seen as a monster than totally ignored, and struggles with the fact that his father does just that and hardly seems to notice. Talking to his friend Sarah, who treats him like the man he is, allows him to open up and relax, and we get to see how affected he is underneath his stoic JL member facade. Reis’s pencils are strong here as usual, and while the STAR labs scenes look great it is in the action scenes between the Alien/Thing-style Technosapiens and the soldiers that look particularly good. Prado and Lucas finish the art off really well to give a beautiful looking book.

Considering how every other founding member of the current iteration of the Justice League has had a solo book since the DC relaunch and are now all in the low #40 issues, this series has been a long time coming. It’s nice to see then that the first issue of Cyborg indicates that this is the book the character deserves, with a strong emotional resonance and great character work and art. Pick this up at your LCS or digitally now.

Score: 8.5 Operating Systems out of 10