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.

Crossed + One Hundred 10 (September 2015)

crossed one hundred 10It took me two readings of this issue to realize why it feels like the shortest in the series thus far: terse dialogue between two peoples, the Crossed and the non, is made twice as terse by the rules of Alan Moore’s debilitated future English. Nearly half the pages are an excruciatingly tense standoff between Future and the camp she and her exploratory party stumbled upon, and new info gleaned about the Salt-Crossed is kept in line with Moore & Spurrier’s highly disciplined rationing of revelations across the second arc. Spurrier’s ear for dialogue might actually be better amongst the Salt-Crossed and their sickly lower-tier classes than Future and her fellow survivalers. The introduction of uncrossed humans indoctrinated as servants to the empire of Bosol is a harrowing, barely fictionalized snapshot of how slave mentality continues to function when the slave masters are away.

The only downside to this excellent scene is that it takes so little time to read, there’s barely any story left in the remaining pages. I actually went back and counted them, thinking I’d been short-changed from the usual 22. A heavy firefight action bit in the middle section also sped up the pacing. Since it’s all in greater service of the plot rather than gratuitous pandering, however, you can’t really complain.

Of equal weight to new developments in Future’s adventures, Crossed +One Hundred now has a third artist in the fold: Rafa Ortiz, who’s apparently done prior work elsewhere in the CCU (Crossed Comics Universe.) The changeover from Fernando Heinz is a mixed bag. Though his skills aren’t equal to Gabriel Andrade’s, his character acting still strives towards a comparable level of realism rather than manga-inspired rendering. The grit is back. But man-oh-man, there are two panels that are just BLATANTLY re-used near the beginning of that confrontation sequence, abruptly jerking you right out of the moment. They actually almost mirror each other across the two-page spread, it’s kind of impossible to ignore. Not sure if that’s Avatar’s fault or his – both this and the previous issue are dated for September, what was the big rush?

Hopefully we don’t see that kind of sloppiness again. Especially since Ortiz proves himself otherwise capable throughout his debut installment, both at staging action and depicting complicated outdoor crowd scenes, as he does on the final page. Those two aspects will doubtless become more critical as the saga continues simmering to a boil.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; Series Outline, Alan Moore; artist, Rafa Ortiz; colorist, Digikore Studios; lettering, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

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