July 3, 2019

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Quick Hit - Little Bird 4

Little Bird #4 (of 5)

“We want a life worth living.” 


Little Bird 4 
Published by Image Comics 
Writer – Darcy Van Poelgeest 
Line Artist – Ian Bertram 
Color Artist – Matt Hollingsworth 
Letterer – Aditya Bidikar 

Little Bird reaches its penultimate issue still wrapped in mystery and misdirection. There isn’t another book like Little Bird on the stands right now, and there hasn’t been one for quite some time. Rarely are post-apocalyptic polemics so subtle and sophisticated without turning sterile or stilted. Bertram and Hollingsworth combine to create an incredibly organic feel for Van Poelgeest’s story. Bertram’s sinewy lines, heavy on textures, allow master-colorist Matt Hollingsworth to further add to the unique style. The end result is a book that doesn’t look like much else on the stands, fitting for one that doesn’t read like most others, either.  

The narrative of Little Bird has been somewhat non-linear, incorporating flashback scenes and dream sequences into a multi-layer plot. There are points in the story where it’s hard to discern what’s real and what’s conjured. The fact that Van Poelgeest and company avoid tipping their hand is the kind of restraint that makes this work compelling. Issue 4 opens up with a marriage between a flashback and a dream, punctuated by insanely imaginative Hollingsworth colors. During the sequence, we’re given more insight into the connection between Little Bird and the creepy-yet-sympathetic prisoner child, Gabriel. We learn their connection, seemingly, but it’s a drug-induced nocturne courtesy of one of the American Vatican’s many harrowing weirdoes.  

Little Bird, though, proves her resilience and continues to prefigure the savior archetype, the reverse Joan of Arc, that Van Poelgeest builds for her. Bertram and Hollingsworth are on point during Little Bird’s fight sequence as she attempts to, yet again, break free of Vatican dominion. Her fight is juxtaposed with the nascent stages of a people’s revolt against the powerful cleric master class. The continual series of setbacks for Little Bird begins to feel almost insurmountable by the end of issue four, and we readers are likely skeptical of a final victory for Little Bird and her people against the oppressive American Empire and its legion of psychotic priests.  

In lesser hands, Little Bird is a straightforward, anti-imperialist post-apocalyptic epic, but this creative team weaves layers of satire and cultural reference with a twisty plot that keeps the reader guessing about the eventual outcome. By the end of the penultimate issue, no one is necessarily confident that Little Bird and her now-meager resistance can triumph over the repressive regime, but there are more than enough dangling plot threads that Van Poelgeest can pull together for issue five to create a spectacular finale. One thing is clear - at this point, Little Bird captures just as much intrigue as it did on its debut.