Published on March 13th, 2019 | by Dana Folkard
LITTLE BIRD #1 REVIEW
Summary: A young resistance fighter rises against an oppressive empire.
New miniseries, Little Bird, from indie film director Darcy Van Poelgeest with art by the talented Ian Bertram, explores a dark tale set in an alternate post-apocalyptic world, where the Canadian Resistance fight for their freedom against the oppressive American Empire. A highly compelling and provoking tale, this is one you should definitely add to your pull list.
The story begins in the Rocky Mountains, where we see the leader of the Canadian Resistance, Tantoo, motivating her troops before they embark for battle. They have protected their lands for thousands of years from “the thieves to the north”, an ultra-nationalist, theocratic government called the American Empire. Before Tantoo leaves for battle, she hides her young daughter, Little Bird, in an underground bunker. Telling her to stay hidden and to not come out, she says her farewell and departs, leaving the girl alone but at least safe. Three days pass, and Little Bird emerges from the bunker to discover that her people lost the battle, their lands have been taken and her mother is missing. A tragic day, but with no time to mourn, Little Bird sets out to enact the plan her mother intended: free the Axe and save the people. The first step in her quest is to infiltrate the Northern Guard Penitentiary for Genetically Modified Beings, where the man called the Axe is being held.
Ok, I’ll leave my issue breakdown at that for now, as this is a story you’ll want to fully discover for yourself. All I can say is wow…just wow. Firstly, the scale and depth of worldbuilding here is immense and incredibly detailed. This world feels broken, damaged and war-ravaged. You really get the sense of a long and complex history, will lots of bloodshed, heartache and injustices. The bad guys in this tale are ultra-religious zealots, who rule the Empire of America with fear, oppression and crazed religious ideologies. Their capital is the “New Vatican”, lead by a man called the Vicar of Christ, and a scary fellow he is, indeed. These guys are bad and intend to expand their empire north, encroaching into the Canadian wilderness.
This is where Tantoo, the resistance and Little Bird enter. The underdogs in this entire situation, who face an enemy far more powerful than their army. The odds are stacked against them, but where they lack in numbers, they make up for in spirit. We see this directly in the character Little Bird. Little Bird is a fierce warrior and should not be underestimated because of her age or size. Years of war with the American Empire has hardened her, forcing her to adopt the resistance lifestyle, and embrace the fight against the oppressors. I’ve always loved stories that use a child as the main protagonist, leading us on a journey as seen through their eyes. I’m really looking forward to discovering more about Little Bird, and seeing her grow throughout the arc.
I love Ian Bertram’s art, taking us into a surreal, and at times, disturbing landscape. I’ve always found Bertram’s art to be very striking, with his abstract character design, and deeply unsettling visual storytelling. His use of heavy shading and detailed linework helps to add another layer to this already complex visual narrative. I absolutely love some of the character designs we see, delving into horrific and grotesque territory at times. There is definitely a science fiction edge to the visual style of this comic, reminding me at times of a mix of Dune, Akira or even Giger. Being set during a war, there is naturally a lot of blood and death in this opening issue, and Bertram doesn’t shy away from delivering heavy doses of blood-soaked gore. These detailed scenes are quite confronting, but honestly, I loved every moment of them. The colouring by Matt Hollingsworth works well alongside the art, helping to reinforce the various tonal shifts throughout the issue.
Overall, I thought that this was a powerful and thought-provoking first issue. The story is clever and well-rounded and the art is lovely in a surrealistic way. I highly recommend this series.
I’m giving this issue 5 out of 5 stars!
CREATIVE TEAM: Darcy Van Poelgeest, Ian Bertram and Matt Hollingsworth
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
GENRE: Science Fiction/Dystopian
PUBLICATION DATE: March 13, 2019
REVIEWER: Dana Folkard