Previously, “Birthright #8”
We begin Birthright #9 with a flashback to Terrenos and, as you’d expect from Williamson, the flashbacks are made to properly further our understanding of what’s going on currently. In this case, to understand what the Diviner is and why we should be anxious for our heroes. This opening was very effective because it allows us, the readers, to question the various shades of gray within the story and specifically the conflict with the Diviner. This exploration of a gray existence is popular now due to a certain book series and television show that also wields swords and magical beasts. Through each of our own filters, we get to see how far King Lore will go to make sure his plans come to fulfilment and how far our so-called heroes will go to blur the lines of good and evil to make sure King Lore does not win in the end. This is a vast adjustment in the story’s viewpoint, since we have already seen the people of Earth who are caught in the middle of this conflict are in very real danger from any knowledge or interaction from the various alien things from Mikey’s Terrenos.
The flashback begins with Mikey, Rook, Rya, and Shavo coming upon a village which has been destroyed by a Diviner. As the group surveys the ruin, Rook explains what a Diviner is and how, to accomplish its ultimate goal: the destruction of all things Lore, the Diviner will unleash judgment upon even the innocent, if it means the infection of Lore will be cleansed from the person, place, or thing. Rook leaves young Mikey with one piece of advice before they move on from the village, “Someday, after years of training, you will be able to battle all sorts of creatures and magical beings, but promise me, Mikey. If you ever encounter a Diviner… you run!” This sets the tone of the rest of the book, as Mikey battles the Diviner and its three heralds. Mickey dispatches with the heralds with the “Blades from the Fields of Forever” and then does what Rook told him not to do… Mikey confronts the Diviner. The Diviner attempts to show Mikey he means nothing but good will and heals Brennan from his gunshot wounds. After being healed, Brennan tells Mikey he is beginning to have issues with his methods of violence and death to solve all their problems. And he says he thinks it is time for both of them to go home. Mikey is not going to disregard his mission of finding the magi and “saving” the earth. So Brennan says he cannot go with Mikey… Mikey turns and walks away. Wait, what?!?!? This can’t be the way the Rhodes brothers’ road show ends, can it?
So Mikey goes to confront the Diviner again for a final battle, but the battle does not end as you would think. What starts off with Mikey taking on the Diviner, ends with him fighting himself and the Nevermind inside of him. This internal conflict puts Mikey in a precarious position, as it is revealed Mikey is fighting the infection from Lore when it tells him to harm his brother and his family. The Nevermind does not like this conflict in Mikey and fights back, attempting to beat Mikey into submission. The conflict in his allegiance to Lore is going to make or break Mikey going forward in the series.
With Mikey down physically, as he is fighting his literal internal demons, the Diviner sees a chance to purge Mikey from Lore’s Nevermind. But as we all had hoped, Brennan was not going to let anything happen to his “little” brother if he had anything to say about it. The panel where Brennan is holding the “Blades from the Fields of Forever” was such a cool character moment with Mikey and Becca in the background. It was a perfect snapshot of a real hero being born! However, this is brave and insane moment, as well, since Brennan has VERY little training, and let’s not forget Rook’s warning. This cannot end well for the brothers can it?
Now, just when you think the story is over and nothing else shocking can happen… you turn the page! We find Wendy still reading Mikey’s journals and actually enjoying his adventures in Terrenos, when she hears a voice behind her call her name. It is freaking Rye asking for her help! I think the baby is coming. I wonder if Wendy is ready to be a grandma. Haha!
And that ends this amazing issue. These first nine issues have really shattered everything we thought we knew about stories of destiny and happy endings. Birthright amazes as a fantasy series; shocking us and destroying our ideas of how a story was supposed be told. It goes to that shadowy, yet magical, place in our minds, and this issue takes us further into that murky place where Mikey is being confronted for his corruption, the Nevermind, and fighting back; showing perhaps some of the hero is still left inside of him. And now, with Mikey incapacitated and a newly healed and Brennan stepping up to protect his brother, what will happen to our brothers? And Wendy finally gets to play in the world of all things Mikey, which should be very interesting. Can she really doubt anymore? This issue was solid and continues to cause us to question what is right and what is wrong and where is all of this going to end up? You can be sure I will be reading to find out!