Dark, surreal, and addictive, Little Bird #1 is a fresh reinvention of the post-apocalyptic political drama that hits the ground running from its first panel and dares you to keep up. The Canadian resistance is about to make its last stand against the tyrannical theocracy of the United Nations of America, and after it falls, a resourceful 12-year-old girl must reignite the resistance, free the north, and save the world.
Indie film director/screenwriter Darcy Van Poelgeest (Corvus, The Orchard) makes a strong comics writing debut with this series, forging a dystopian future where the church is the state and resistance is futile. The malevolent Bishop’s blend of religious fervor and political ambition might make him right at home as a character in Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta’s East of West. But where the complexities of the world within East of West take 10-12 issues to develop as its broad political landscape gradually unfolds, the opposite occurs in Little Bird. Van Poelgeest’s worldbuilding efforts ooze from every panel, establishing layers of intrigue and peril that render a fully formed world in the first issue.
Van Poelgeest makes excellent use of the juxtaposition of opposites with characters and settings. As an opposite to the overindulged Bishop are the hardships facing Little Bird as she sets aside her childhood to carry out her primary mission to revive the resistance. Van Poelgeest uses these characters to explore the notion that one person can inspire a movement to good or evil through their personal conviction and a whole lot of violence. Settings are also opposed, adding tension behind the action as the world of the resistance is closely tied to the land itself with its wooden buildings, while the New Vatican is a cold concrete and technologically advanced metropolis.
Ian Bertram’s (E Is for Extinction, House of Penance) beautifully detailed art is the surreal engine propelling Van Poelgeest’s fractured future. His intricate inks provide a pervasive sense of suspense as the layers of intrigue unfold, whether they lead to political plotting or a bloody prison break. Fans of Christopher Mitten’s early work on Wasteland or Giannis Milonogiannis’ work on Prophet will appreciate Bertram’s efforts here. Matt Hollingsworth’s smart colors further perpetuate the differences between the resistance and the Vatican, as warm colors reflect the groundedness of the resistance and cool colors represent the theocracy’s power over and disconnection from the people it governs.
If you’re the kind of science fiction fan that likes a bloody romp through dystopian futures populated by rich, complex characters destined to clash at every turn, Little Bird is the smart, dark, post-apocalyptic quest you’ve been waiting for.