Birthright 12 (December 2015)

Birthright #12

Ah, a good old-fashioned subway fight. Not New York subway, Chicago subway. The setting should give Birthright some kind of distinction, but it doesn’t. In fact, there’s no distinct this issue, except maybe the first time I’ve seen Bressan rush through a scene so bad he loses his detail. The last seven or so pages feel like an entirely different artist, sort of aping Bressan’s style, but not really.

There’s also nothing special as far Williamson’s plotting. It’s sort of a bridging issue, but nothing happens. Just build-up for something later on, the good guys from Conan-land are going after Birthright’s “hero.” Hopefully his little big brother will stand up for him, but he’s asking questions too.

And the stuff with the mom and the now grown son’s pregnant girlfriend? The pregnant, flying warrior woman girlfriend? They get jumped by these bozo men in black guys. It’s really lame. It’s a weird issue.

I think I might be done with Birthright. I just can’t make the time.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

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Birthright 11 (November 2015)

Birthright #11

Williamson surprises a little bit with this issue of Birthright because he positions the Conan character as sympathetic. Or at least inviting sympathy. There’s this flashback to when he was Kid Conan and coming into his own adventuring and all that fantasy nonsense and he’s a likable character. The gimmick of Birthright is two-fold. There’s that initial hook of doing a really solid modern fantasy thing and then the followup punch of having it all be an evil deceit.

After ramping up the secondary part of the gimmick for so long, Williamson lets the book be fun for an issue. Kid Conan rescues a kidnapped princess or something. She’s not a princess, but you get the idea. It’s neat. And Bressan’s art is awesome.

Bressan’s art this issue might be the best so far in the series. He does the fantasy stuff great, but he also does these modern-day, “real world” talking heads scenes great. His expressions are full of emotion. It makes the flashback narrative affecting. Good stuff.

And Williamson’s soft cliffhanger suggests it’s going to keep being entertaining. Birthright’s just the right amounts of smart, playful and fun.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 10 (August 2015)

Birthright #10

As usual for Williamson–and easily the most frustrating thing about his writing–the issue reads too fast. This issue of Birthright is some female bonding and a lengthy fight sequence. At the end of the fight sequence comes a big surprise. And it’s a good big surprise, but it’s not good enough to forgive the issue taking place over five minutes.

Especially since Bressan is wasted on a slow fight scene. Bressan’s an imaginative artist and instead of letting him visualize cool things, this issue has him visualizing a scene out of an eighties fantasy action movie. Released by Cannon.

Speaking of which, as a compliment, Williamson and Bressan should search out a licensee for the property who’ll honor that eighties vibe.

I really like Birthright. It just never fully delivers. Maybe Williamson’s just writing for the trade (and the YA audience in book stores), which would be smart. It’s an incredibly accessible book and one with a wide range of potential reader.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Mike Williamson and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 9 (July 2015)

Birthright #9

It’s like Terminator 2. Birthright, at least this issue, reads like watching Terminator 2 for the first time. Well, parts of it; the really good action parts. Something about Bressan’s composition and the level of detail to figures in motion–the action scenes in the comic feel like a really well-executed movie action sequence.

It’s weird, since Birthright is a fantasy book. But it’s a fantasy setup put into an eighties action movie. Even the brother’s adventure (the little big brother) feels like an eighties action movie. These comparisons aren’t slights; Williamson’s writing a wonderful homage to that era and, more specifically, sentimentality to it.

It’s got to be intentional.

Anyway, at the same time, Williamson is building some other things (specifically the mom’s character as well as the complexities of the politics in the fantasy world). It works out. I still don’t like the cliffhangers, but good issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Mike Williamson and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 8 (June 2015)

Birthright #8

This issue of Birthright moves rather well. Williamson gets in a lot of busyness. Not much happens–Conan brings his little big brother to a first aid station after passing some possessed guys (possessed by creatures from the fantasy world). Then he has to fight them. And his flying girlfriend (who’s pregnant) has a run in with the FBI.

For the first time, I can also see Williamson’s track. I can’t see where he’s going, but you can see the track of how long Birthright’s supposed to run. We’re getting close to halfway. It’s nothing in the plotting as much as how Williamson treats the characters; the parents are subjects now, not active players.

After a lengthy action sequence with the flying girlfriend, Bressan starts slowing down in the rest of the book. I think it’s the first time he’s been overwhelmed on the series.

It’s a fine comic.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Mike Williamson and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 7 (May 2015)

Birthright #7

Well, Williamson turns in another fine issue of Birthright. I just wish they were all either this fine or I’d even take it a little less fine. Just so it’d be a steady read, because I don’t like feeling iffy on a series.

The story is good, he just doesn’t always tell it the same way. He misses out on where the story works–the characters’ relationships. He’s treating that aspect of the story as the McGuffin, when it’s really the other thing. This issue seems like he’s figured it out.

It’s like he realized he could only cry wolf so many times and he’s finally gotten over it.

There’s some good character development and some amusing scenes. Birthright always feels a little too fast a read, but Williamson gets a bunch of stuff done. Bressan’s good on the art, as always. Even gets to do some superhero-like stuff.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Mike Williamson and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 6 (April 2015)

Birthright #6

It’s too soon to say I’m worried about Birthright, but I guess I’m starting to get concerned. Or maybe I wasn’t concerned but this issue is concerning.

Williamson is accelerating the story of the evil villain controlling Conan and accelerating Conan’s younger big brother figuring out something’s wrong with his brother. There’s some nice stuff with Williamson writing the character–Conan–as he remembers things from his past on Earth, many years before; it suggests there was probably a story here without the whole betrayal subplot, just not as long of one.

Or as action-packed?

There’s a really lame scene between the parents. Williamson doesn’t have the mother’s character down, which is getting to be a big problem. The parents are both generic–Dad good, Mom bad–and there’s too much time spent on them here.

Nice art from Bressan as usual.

Hopefully Birthright’s just stumbling, not falling.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Mike Williamson and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 5 (February 2015)

Birthright #5

Williamson has a surprise in him. Birthright has it’s big surprise, of course, the big overall one, but Williamson totally changes the series with the last scene and it’s pretty cool. Birthright, just because the concept is so defined, occasionally feels like it can’t surprise. Even when it’s really good, it’s because Williamson’s doing really well with that concept.

Not here. Here, he shows he can surprise and give the series even more depth. Very cool.

And Bressan gets a hard job–visualizing an “imaginary friend”–and does really well with it. The way the scenes work have the character staggered; on the first appearance, it seems like a big misstep for Bressan. But during the second scene, it’s clear his design is perfect.

There’s a lot of exposition during the fight scene, both from the people in the know and the people not. It’s all just fantastically well-executed.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 4 (January 2015)

Birthright #4

Williamson keeps improving with Birthright. He never loses what he’s already done, but he develops further–and not with his flashbacks to fantasy land, which get tiresome (something the father realizes too, in a great scene). Instead, he’s able to reveal things about the family without having to use a flashback. It comes up in the conversation, with the older brother reminding Conan of their lives before fantasy land.

What’s particularly compelling about Birthright is how seriously Williamson takes both sides of the story. I’m dismissive of the fantasy elements because I’m not interested in them. But he’s still doing a tough story about this sword and sandal alternate reality; he never forces the tough. There’s an idealism, but a grounded one.

And the family stuff is just getting better. It’s getting so good, actually, Bressan’s a little too clean for it.

Birthright isn’t just impressive, it’s getting more so.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 3 (December 2014)

Birthright #3

It’s a particularly interesting issue because Williamson never talks about the big secret–the big gimmick, the big deception, the big unknown. There’s stuff related to it, but he never identifies why he’s on these topics. It would be a bad jumping on issue.

There’s some good stuff with the parents. Not together so much, because Williamson is moving quickly. He doesn’t slow down for things he would need to stop and work with. The issue is kind of sprinting, actually. The mom has her good scenes, the dad has a couple scenes where it could lead somewhere better.

Then there’s the brother. The older brother who becomes younger but still somewhat wiser–at least in the ways of Earth. His scenes are good too; probably the best in the issue.

But Williamson is still soft booting the series with every issue. He still hasn’t found the Birthright’s sustainable tone.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 2 (November 2014)

Birthright #2

The first half or so of this issue is worrisome. Williamson brings in a whole bunch of fantasy world vocabulary for a flashback–the structure is fairly simple, present day on Earth with Conan grown-up, the fantasy world in flashback when he’s still an Earth kid adjusting. And while Bressan’s art is fine–his action is better–there’s not much one can do with a fantasy world anymore. They’re standard, thanks to comics, movies, video games and television.

The first half also has the pained meeting between brothers–the younger brother now much older (and Conan). Williamson’s sincere in the scene, but it doesn’t offer anything new.

Luckily, the finale has something also not new, but still awesome. Conan breaks free in the police station and it’s the Terminator only with a magical warrior. Good character work in the sequence too. It pulls the issue around just in time.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Birthright 1 (October 2014)

Birthright #1

If the first issue is an indication, Birthright is going to be a trip.

Writer Joshua Williamson has a big twist at the end–the story of a missing child who returns as a grown, savage warrior out of a fantasy world–but the better stuff is how he’s handling the regular characters. The back and forth between the family is great, especially how Williamson is carefully positioning the older (but not anymore) brother as the protagonist. He’s the one who’s had to be literally responsible for his father but also monitoring the mother.

Williamson opens the issue with the child going missing, showing the family in the happier days. It also seems like he’s going to try for some science with the child’s return.

Andrei Bressan’s art is a little slick, but his composition and visual pacing are both strong.

The cliffhanger’s an obvious one, but Williamson sells it.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Helen Leigh and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

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