Hey gang! Hope you’re all doing well.
It’s that wonderful time once again – another week, another Forte, another edition of Pulp, your gateway to the world of superheroes, mysteries and just plain weird shit. This week, we’re perusing the shelves of Image Comics once again – I’ve picked up Homecoming, volume one of Birthright. Written by Joshua Williamson (Nailbiter, Ghosted) and drawn by Andrei Bressan, Birthright has been around for a few years, and given its whole deal, I’m surprised that it snuck under my radar.
Years ago, the Rhodes family were happy. Aaron Rhodes was father to Brennan and Mikey, and his marriage to his wife Wendy seemed unshakeable. That all changed when Mikey disappeared on his birthday, chasing a ball into the woods that was thrown by his father. Accused of murdering his son, Aaron’s life falls apart – publicly shamed, and his marriage irreconcilably destroyed, he falls into a deep depression, with no end in sight. Now, years later, an enormous, muscled warrior has appeared, claiming to be Mikey Rhodes – and he has one hell of a story to tell. Drawn into a fantasy world and proclaimed to be the chosen one, Mikey has battled goblins, sorcerers and all kinds of magical monsters. As the Chosen One, he slew the God-King Lore and was celebrated as a hero. Now, he’s been sent back to slay five of Lore’s chosen sorcerers, who are corrupting our world as part of a devious plan. Delighted at Mikey’s return, Aaron and Brennan are dragged along on Mikey’s quest, but Mikey’s not the same person he once was.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with Birthright. I enjoyed Nailbiter’s gruesome concepts, but I wasn’t sure if Williamson could write a fantasy story as well as his serial killer narratives. Thankfully, Birthright proved his versatility, and I found myself being drawn into the story remarkably quickly. The split narrative between the fantasy world-centric flashbacks and the modern day story works really well – seeing Mikey’s development from a timid, scared adolescent to a scarred, courageous warrior makes for a great line of character development – especially when you consider what he’s done to get home (vague, I know, but spoilers!).
I actually found that I enjoyed the flashbacks more than the present day narrative – I was more invested in the traditional hero’s journey story than the “prodigal son returns” type story, and I think it was due to the stakes involved. Mikey’s journey in Terrenos seems to have higher stakes and is a lot more dangerous from the get-go, whereas in the modern day he seems practically invincible. It’s a small gripe, but there’s still plenty of interesting ideas to keep the modern storyline relevant.
All up, Birthright has some really interesting ideas. It’s not the most original story in places, but Williamson has still crafted a story that’ll drawn you in and keep you hooked – it’s got me to the point of wanting to immediately go out and buy volume 2, which is a bit of a rarity these days. Birthright has action, adventure, family drama, and wizards – it’s pretty much a recipe for success. Check this one out, it’s well worth a read.
By Alastair McGibbon