Panelology is a weekly podcast about comics. We talk about current books, what we're looking forward to, and how to get into reading comics in the first place.

Birthright: “Homecoming” (Image Comics, 2014; #1-5)

I usually have a pretty good sense of what I’m getting into when I pick up a comic.  Given that I pay attention to industry news, solicitations, and the like, that isn’t surprising; in fact, I like it that way.  But every once in a while, a creative team (usually on a creator-owned book, when they can make that choice free from a corporate marketing team) will withhold a central piece of their book’s premise.  And when I finally read it, even months or years after it came out, I get to be surprised.

Birthright is the latest comic to pull that off.  I remember listening to Joshua Williamson promote the book in interviews when it first came out:  he compared it to one of those '80s action movies where a kid gets pulled into a fantasy world—only this is about his family dealing with the fallout of his disappearance and his return a year later as a fully grown man.  All of that is true and engaging; characters’ emotional responses drive nearly everything in the story.  But there is an added wrinkle, which keeps a happy ending out of reach.  

(And no, I’m not going to tell you what that wrinkle is; I think you should let it happen in the book’s pages, as its creators intended; but if you really need to know…you’re on the internet, land of spoilers.)

Bressan and Lucas’s art does a great job of balancing the fantasy and real-world elements of Birthright’s story.  When elements of one world cross paths with the other, they look foreign to that world without being stylistically out of place.  Bressan’s line-work shines in its richness of detail—the landscapes, in particular, remind me of Capullo’s work; and Lucas’s colors communicate light and temperature realistically regardless of environment.  Even when spells crackle or magic blades burn, they do so in a way that feels practical.

I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of Williamson’s work, and I have seen Bressan’s and Lucas’s around DC over the last couple of years  (and I’m pretty sure that we have praised Lucas’s colors on the current Detective Comics run on the podcast)—and I think it’s safe to say that this is some of their best work.  In fact, this book is a very easy blind recommendation; I feel like I could suggest it to someone interested in comics without knowing much at all about their taste.  If you’re into the idea of a fantasy story built around the tension of family drama, there’s no reason not to check Birthright out.

Collected in

  • Birthright, Volume One: Homecoming (#1-5)


Writer: Joshua Williamson | Artist: Andre Bressan | Colorist: Adriano Lucas | Letterer: Pat Brosseau | Assistant Editor: Helen Leigh | Editor: Sean Mackiewicz

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