LITTLE BIRD, ISSUE #4
Writer: Darcy Van Poelgeest
Illustrator: Ian Bertram
Publisher: Image Comics
WHAT IS IT?
The third issue in a new dystopian science fiction 5-issue miniseries about a young girl who sets out to save the world against an evil, hyper-religious army of American invaders.
It feels a little like The Handmaid's Tale politically, but there are so many surreal elements and war themes that take it in a darkly science fiction territory.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
It's so much worse than we thought.
Little Bird has been captured. To save Gabriel (and possibly, doubtfully, the decaying American public), the evil powers that be experiment on her.
Little Bird must escape, preferably with Gabriel, who we get even more heartbreaking backstory for. Can she escape before they find the gene responsible for her resurrection ability and use it to cure Gabriel? Because if she can't, she and the Resistance may be lost and gone forever.
I don't want to spend time reiterating all the things that make Little Bird great, because it would make this review longer than anyone would want to read. Instead, you can read past reviews for that, and read the bullets below for all the great, new stuff.
The red glowing tendrils make their appearance on the cover of each issue, rising higher and higher as the daylight turns to night in the background. We see a little more of them this issue. I'm not sure if we'll get any explanation as to what they are, or their significance, but they are definitely slowly swallowing up our characters.
Immediately opening with a mother spider and its babies sets the tone for the issue. It's numerous small creatures that should be cute (they're babies!), but you know they'll grow up to be the same repulsive monsters as their parents.
The opening monologue sets the former bullet up well, though the shift to talking about hunger and change carries thematically throughout the issue. And you even if you realize it's foreshadowing future events, you don't know how until those events happen. You don't know who is hungriest and who is willing so sacrifice themself for the future until it's happening in front of you. It's truly masterful storytelling.
No one does scene transitions better than Ian Bertram. The way he cuts the bottom of a panel to focus on the feet, then transition to close-ups of those feet as they revisit the spiders from the opening is brilliant.
We also revisit the subtle planting of seeds in the art that we saw in the first issue. In one specific scene, we see a knife on a table in the top panel. That knife isn't engaged with until the panel at the bottom, after the color balance has shifted from mostly orange to entirely purple, and we follow that knife, that embodiment of tension and decision, through much of the rest of the issue.
I really liked Aditya Bidikar's rhythmic waves of gunfire sound effects. It's brought to life as this constant sound, almost pulsating. Almost musical, which runs counter to the concept of gunfire in the first place. If anyone tries to tell you lettering can't be an art form, show them Aditya Bidikar's work.
We again get two color palettes from Matt Hollingsworth: one that's autumnal and earthly, representing Little Bird and her people, and one that's bright, sickly, sci-fi yellows and oranges and purples representing America. We also see a power struggle between orange and purple a lot this issue, like they, too, represent these two warring sides. Pay attention to the scenes where you see it, and how light or dark the shade of each is.
All those sci-fi colors really bring to life Bertram's Moebius-inspired America this issue!
More than most comics, the art and the narrative work together to tell the story, each one strengthening the other. It's infinitely fascinating when you see one take a backseat to let the other carry the weight of the storytelling, or when the two convey messaging that purposely doesn't line up, like at the end of the previous issue and toward the end of this one.
Finally, this issue has one of the single, most powerful panels I’ve seen in a comic. I don't want to say more, but I had to set the issue down for a bit and come back to it later, I was so overwhelmed.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Graphic violence and some powerful and heavy images mean it may not be for all readers
There are no intentions of collecting the series into a trade paperback in the near future. However, they do plan to release a hardcover collection of the issues. Purchasing the individual issues remains the most cost-effective way to read the issues, and the individual issues also have bonus material that won't be in the collected edition, so do consider picking them up. Also, it sounds like they're reprinting the first 2 issues, so shouldn't have too hard of a time finding them!
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Little Bird is a visual feast in every page turn, from Ian Bertram's meticulous, stunning illustration to Matt Hollingsworth's ethereal colors.
And though this story is dystopian sci-fi with many surreal elements, it's grounded in current events, working on many different levels.
The story is both epic and tragic. Little Bird will envelop you, wrapping you up in its beautiful, dangerous world. Easily one of the top 10 comics of 2019.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
We Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan & Steve Skroce
East of West, Vol. 1 by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta
Monstress, Vol. 1 by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda
If you like the art:
Bowery Boys by Cory Levine, Ian Bertram & Brent David McKee
The Incal by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Moebius
Extremity, Vol. 1 by Daniel Warren Johnson
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Darcy Van Poelgeest – Writer
New Face: This is his first comic
Multitalented: Also an award-winning film writer and director
Outlander: Lives in Vancouver
Ian Bertram – Illustrator
Award Winner: was chosen as the Best New Talent of 2011 by Comicbookjesus.com
His unique style uses thousands of markings to form a greater
Matt Hollingsworth – Colorist
Prolific: Has worked in the industry for decades
Dream Team: Has worked with some of the biggest names and titles in comics (Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Rick Remender)
Outlander: Left America and moved to Croatia in 2006
Aditya Bidikar – Letterer
Multitalented: Co-hosts a comics podcast with fellow letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, called Letters & Lines
Enjoys hand-drawing his sound effects
Sometimes hosts a #LettererJam event on Twitter where letters all show their different approaches to a single page of comic book art
Ben Didier – Designer
Multitalented: Also works as a graphic designer, letterer and illustrator
Outlander: Like Darcy Van Poelgeest, he also lives in Vancouver
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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