I received an early preview copy of this issue at the Skybound Retailer Breakfast last July in San Diego, and Robert Kirkman and his team were very excited about this book, enough so that they printed out and distributed copies to every person in the room. Is their excitement justified? Judging from this issue, I would say that there is definitely a possibility this could blossom into a very interesting property for Skybound.
The story begins with Mikey's (the boy you see on the cover) disappearance. While playing catch with his father in the park, Mikey chases an overthrown baseball into the woods. After a few minutes waiting for Mikey's return, his father follows him into the woods to investigate. After a frantic search, his father realizes that he is gone.
The ensuing six pages chronicle the next year following Mikey's disappearance, and the subsequent collapse of his parent's marriage, and his father's downward spiral into his own personal hell, brought on by accusations in the community and by law enforcement that he killed his own son. As a father, the entire first half of this first issue is like reading my own worst nightmare taking form. When you have children, the thought of anything happening to them is your worst fear made real, the thought of being blamed for any harm befalling them is unimaginable. Williamson taps into emotion effectively and quickly here in Birthright with that parent/child narrative, and for me, that gets my attention like few other literary situations can.
The final third of this book tells the story of Mikey's return...of sorts. It seems the police are holding an adult man who claims to be Mikey, but has a fantastic story to tell of a world ravaged by war, held under the oppressive hand of a violent despot, and Mikey was born to stop him, it is his "birthright". Mikey tells his amazing story to the police, but when he is alone, we find out that Mikey wasn't telling the whole truth, and in fact, he may be the harbinger of the end of our world.
The art, and coloring, is beautiful in this book. Colorist Adriano Lucas brings this entire book to life with distinctly different color palettes that give the two worlds very different aesthetics and tone, and artist Andrei Bressan delivers some particularly menacing monsters that are extremely appealing visually. The art team is solid, the story is interesting and the possibilities for this type of story are endless, as what happens in fantasy realms is limited only by the creator's imaginations, and it appears that Williamson, Bressan and Lucas have plenty to bring us going forward.
As I mentioned earlier, Skybound is launching this as an ongoing series in October, so they appear to have a lot of faith in what this team can achieve, and after the first issue, I think it's reasonable to believe in them as well. At $2.99 I can definitely recommend at least trying this out and seeing if it suits your taste, I believe it has a broad enough appeal that it just might grab you.