Saturday, April 25, 2015

Birthright, Volume One: Homecoming

 Image Comics has delivered another winner with BIRTHRIGHT, VOLUME ONE: HOMECOMING, an epic of dark fantasy and familial turmoil.
 The book starts out with a scene that will hit any parent in the gut: Aaron and his young son Mikey are playing catch in the park while Mikey's mom Wendy and older brother Brennan are at home getting ready for his surprise birthday party. The ball goes into the woods, Mikey runs in to retrieve it, and disappears. The police have no clues, and eventually turn their attention towards Aaron, who is quickly tried in the court of public opinion, and branded a child-murderer.

 A year passes, and Aaron's marriage falls apart, as he retreats further and further into the bottle to escape his pain. While being visited by his oldest son, Brennan, the duo receives word from the F.B.I. agent in charge of Mikey's disappearance that they've arrested a drifter in connection with the case. Upon arriving at the F.B.I. offices, Aaron, Brennan, and Wendy discover that the drifter isn't really a suspect...He may, in fact, be their son, returned from the horrific fantasy realm to which he was abducted a year ago, now a grown, war-weary man, on one final mission to stop The God-King Lore from spreading his influence to Earth.

 Writer Joshua Williamson and artist Andrei Brennan have knocked this one out of the park, crafting an epic of dark fantasy that grabbed me almost immediately, and kept me hooked with an staggering twist that comes early on. The story flips back and forth from the present-day to Mikey's stories about his training on Terrenos as "The chosen one", and Williamson delivers great action as well as compelling characters. The heartbreak and uncertainty of Mikey's parents is absolutely gut-wrenching, and I dare any parent to read this and not have a knot in their stomach. I'm eagerly awaiting the next volume in the series.

 BIRTHRIGHT, VOLUME ONE: HOMECOMING collects issues 1-5 of the BIRTHRIGHT series, with no extras of any kind, not even the original covers. However, it is one of the Image $9.99 first volume specials, and ten bucks, less at many online retailers, is a great deal for this book. Highly recommended.

 Image Comics provided a review copy.