Mikey continues his pursuit of the five great mages in the fourth issue of Birthright while attempting to readjust to life earthside. Neither his mission nor his re-acclimation have proven to be easy tasks and we get a front row seat to the show as his family struggle’s to understand just what happened to him while he was away in Terrenos fighting monsters and becoming a hero.
BirthRight is great at projecting an unmistakable nostalgia, an outcome that creator Joshua Williamson intentionally strives for, according to an early interview regarding the book. The story has an appeal that serves to awaken the inner child of mature readers and perhaps spark the imagination of a younger audience, as well. All in all, it’s great fun set to the tune of authentic situations.
The decision to relate Mikey’s time in Terrenos via flashback sequences may be a large part of the appeal. We get to see him come of age even as we see the results of his “trial by fire” in the real world. BirthRight walks a fine line between fantasy and real-world expectations that has been attempted many times, but rarely has it come together in such an entertaining and satisfying way.
I think that comes mostly from the way that the characters from the two realms explored in the book have maintained their distinctive roles as either supernatural or wholly pedestrian creatures; so far at least. This is the first issue where the world of Terrenos and earth have shown any meaningful overlap, as Mikey, his brother and his dad finally manage to locate Ward. Also, besides that appearance a hint of the absurdity that Mikey has been relating to his family breaks through in the form of an enchanted forest.
Still though, the story never really oversteps itself, in that character reactions, even those of minor affect, are in line with the assumptions of their respective environments. A great example of this is Aaron’s brief conversation with a gas station attendant concerning Mikey’s in-store outburst of frustration.
It’s those subtle nuances that create attachment to the story and characters for the audience and are in turn a big part of BirthRight’s success. While this issue didn’t really expand the mythos of the BR universe very much, it was great at fleshing out the cast a bit more. You could probably skip it and still not really lose your place in the narrative overall, but for the dedicated amongst us, I wouldn’t recommend doing that.