When I read that this was going to be one of the last quiet issues of the series, I got very excited for what would come next this month. I had very little problem with Birthright #38 being mostly set-up because there is a time for action, and a time to actually prepare yourselves for what it is going to take to save the world. This stage in their plan just so happens to require the team storming the castle to finally get Mastema to work alongside them, instead of just being another obstacle.
Where this creative team did not disappoint, is in the way that this battle turned out. They stormed through, but the big question was if this preparation for Mastema was really going to be enough. Especially when she has managed to turn a whole squad of experienced soldiers into hybrid beasts under her command. As I said last month, these hybrids were astonishing in design. I would think twice as well before I jumped into a fight with a bull holding a machine gun, or the Cerberus with the automatic rifle. I only found it a little predictable for how it started off. Of course for all that training, these soldiers would still find themselves for the most part cannon fodder. Somehow they had to send the message that these were formidable creations, and the best way to do that was apparently to serve them up to brutal deaths. Regardless, everyone did feel the pressure overall which made it that much more intense infiltrating this skyscraper.
Who did manage to impress me was Mikey. That is a hard thing for him to do right now given everything he has been through so far, but he still found room to remind us that he can be a one man army when properly motivated. He got a bit reckless here and there, but you expect that some chances are going to have to be taken in order to plow through these floors protected by all manner of magical and monstrous defenses.
The highlight of this issue actually turned out to be the revelation of Mastema’s plans. One thing we came to learn about her over time is her serious devotion to stopping her father. There was a small flashback this time around, but it gave us just the right amount of insight into what goes through her mind. It was the perfect scene to also transition into an understanding of what she has truly been plotting since the very start. Up to this point you would have simply called Mikey dramatic for his critiques in the use of magic, but this issue made a statement that it really can be dangerous if the wrong person held enough power to make change.
Despite Brennan being in recovery, I did enjoy the little time they put into him trying to reach Kallista. The fact that she is still alive means that her story is not done yet. She may be reluctant, but right now the best chance at saving the world requires the help of everyone who is skilled in magic. I actually liked being taken back by the appearance she also took on in this scene. It really is a tough pill to swallow sometimes to remember just how severe Lore’s corruption can be.
The art team clearly had fun with this one. I’ll say it again, these are creations you are probably only ever going to get within the pages of Birthright. It was one thing to see the reveal of what Mastema transformed these soldiers into, but it was another thing to see them in action. Especially when even their weapons were upgraded by magic to be much more deadlier than anything Mikey and his team brought with them. Speaking of their team, like I said above, it was quite visceral what was done to make an example out of them. Storywise questionable, but visually thrilling for the sake of action. What ended up standing out most was the color work. I was blown away by the fantastical scene that was set when hit with the discovery of what Mastema was doing to prepare for the possible end of both worlds. It was cosmic beauty that Lucas breathed into that last page, and it really captured how powerful she actually is.
Birthright #38 satisfies your needs if you were awaiting that next action-packed issue. The events of this issue will definitely get some readers talking when this twist changes everything about the way you saw this ending. There’s more to this fight for the fate of Terrenos and Earth than simply fixing the gate. As they said, Birthright goes cosmic! And there’s no telling what that means for everyone who thought swords and sorcery were going to be the end all.