After five years and fourty issues, February 5's Birthright #41 begins the march to the series finale with #50 - and the biggest battle yet as the big bad, God King Lore, finally enters the fray against the Rhodes family. Mixing a street-wise urban family with the epic fantasy (and all it entails), Birthright has become a pillar for Image Comics' Skybound Entertainment next to The Walking Dead and Invincible.
Co-creator/writer Joshua Williamson tells Newsarama that the Rhodes family is key to Birthright's finale, and that sense of family is the "heart" of his and Andrei Bressan's conclusion. For more, we talked with both of the creators - and try to find out more about the announced movie adaptation.
Newsarama: Andrei and Josh, what can you tell us about this upcoming arc of Birthright?
Andrei Bressan: It’s our best point. All choices lead us here and now we are ready to show what kind hero we have. We’ve been building this for so long... hope people get excited about this as much as we do.
Josh Williamson: It is a showcase of Andrei and Adriano. The work they are doing on this arc is insane. The best work they've done on the series, by far. As Andrei said earlier this arc is pretty much one long story. We crafted it in a way that it feels like a very fast-paced story that once it takes off it doesn't stop.
The whole arc is the focus on the war and the big confrontation between Mikey and Lore. We'll finally reveal why Mikey betrayed his family to join Lore.
Nrama: One of my favorite things about your series is the family dynamic. What can you tell us about their interactions for this arc and the remainder of the series?
Williamson: The family is the heart of the book. Every time I get a bit lost in the supernatural or the fantasy I remember to ground myself in the family dynamic. Think of how I can relate to them as a family. The emotions they feel in every scene. The best stuff in the book came from that.
And in this arc, there are lots of big moments for the Rhodes family. They are all together but the war with Terrenos has started and they know they have a lot big decisions to make. They quickly learn that the best way to help in the war... is that they have to go their separate ways. It's hard on them all, but they know it's the right call.
Nrama: The family has been pretty busy just trying to stay alive, but will we get to see more from Mikey and Rya and their developing family?
Williamson: For sure. There are a few major moments between Mikey and Rya in this arc. Especially in #43. The last time they were involved in a war like this, Mikey lost and joined the bad guys... so their current situation brings up a lot of bad memories for Rya. And she wants answers to some big questions.
Nrama: At the beginning of this story, Mikey’s mother was one of the most reluctant to this world. As someone not connected to magic - how do you think her point of view has changed and do you have plans for her to step foot into some magic?
Williamson: [Laughs] Well, I don't want to go too deep into spoilers for the future of the story...
Wendy was the most skeptical in the beginning but she is also very family first. She believes in her family above all else. And if that means believing in this crazy world, she's going to do it, especially if it helps her protect her family.
Nrama: Visually, is there a scene that you are most excited for fans to see with this arc?
Bressan: Yes! But let’s talk more in deep about this. From #41 till #45 feels pretty much like one big scene, cuz the flow is tight, brutal, desperate and epic. And it has been really cool making this, guess this is probably our best sequence...
During this epic crazy battle we have #42! Oh yeah, all the way. #42 is my place, right there. I can't wait for people to see it! Howling of joy. But it could be some sort of spoiler. [Laughs]
Nrama: Who has been your favorite character to draw thus far?
Bressan: I really like Rook and Lore... both have some contrast and texture that attracts me. Rook needs to be like a father figure for Mikey but also a some kind bestial being... and the challenge for Lore is to make him like a monster, where you can see the muscles, claws, teeth... but yet..his presence should feel scary and sometimes abstract as a ghost. But I got to tell you one thing... at the very beginning, Brennan was my favorite character due to his emotional dimension.
Nrama: What challenges do you face drawing such a high fantasy world?
Bressan: I guess if you are drawing fantasy the challenge is set. And the work for Birthright felt like I needed to shape the characters for the story and not simply making a brand new elf. The creative process for me was more like searching for the right emotion and then building the shape it needed to express.
Nrama: Are there any updates on the previously-announced movie?
Bressan: They were working on script last time I heard something.
Williamson: Universal is excited about the movie and it's still being worked on.
Nrama: How involved are you both in the adaptation?
Bressan: We spoke about making more monsters. Improving the cast of terrenos, which is always great!
Williamson: I read the scripts and gave notes and my thoughts. It’s really kick ass and true to the story and spirit of the series.
Nrama: Was there something you felt was most important to translate into the film?
Bressan: In visual terms, guess it is finding the right balance between fantasy/war/horror we had so far.
Williamson: Making sure the family dynamic and aspect of the story was maintained. Which it has! And yeah, I want that big epic feeling the book has had.
Nrama: A short wile ago, the two of you confirme that Birthright #50 would be the series finale. What made you decide this was a good ending point?
Bressan: From my perspective, sure! We had room to explore and play with a lot things we enjoy.
Williamson: It was the plan from the start. The story was broken up in arcs where I could end it earlier if I wanted to. But I knew the story. And the best part is getting the room to actually breathe and tell the story the way we wanted. I've known the last page of the last issue from the very start and in #50 we get to hit that beat in the best way possible.
Nrama: What can you tease about the ending?
Bressan: Hold yours hearts!
Williamson: It's going to be a fun ride. Lots of emotional moments on the horizon! This arc we're doing now is so massive that I think will ask what could we possibly follow it up with, but the last arc is something really special. The Rhodes family story has one last important chapter.
Nrama: Will you like to explore the world of Birthright past this title when you wrap?
Bressan: Well, we have room for such... and if so, all good by me!
Williamson: I'd love to work with Andrei again, and if we had a story to tell we could revisit. But I know what we have planned for #50 will be a pretty solid ending.