THIS REVIEW OF ‘LITTLE BIRD’ #3 IS SPOILER-FREE.
by Sara Mitchell. Upon opening the first issue of Little Bird you can hear the sound of a bone-dry bow pulling against the strings of an old violin. Tense, haunting, echoing and full of desperation. The vibrations of the sound kick dust into the cold air and get caught in the white light of the sun, like the dreams we make of ash. It’s a battlecry, an evocation of the past.
Little Bird is a story of inherited memories. The wars our parents and our grandparents fought, their eyes, an old watch, and all the things that follow them into our lives—and into the lives of those to come. Between the panels you can find yourself asking: What if death isn’t just something that happens to us, but is, perhaps, something we inherit? What if death is just a memory passed down by our elders? Little Bird is a girl who dies and comes back to life. She is a child, a wolf, a bird. She is a memory. Fleeting. Scurried away as soon as the light hits your eyes, dipped around a corner, out of sight.
In this third issue, we see Little Bird being haunted by choices from the past, whether they were made by her or not. Writer Darcy Van Poelgeest has planted seeds throughout the telling of this story and every time one of them breaks through to the surface it is absolutely worth the wait. Blossoming questions of predestination are intricately woven throughout the series and become even more apparent now that Little Bird is getting caught up in the weeds of war and political maneuvering.
If the first issue of Little Bird is a violin, then the third is a gun. Indifferent, effective, destructive. No longer the preamble or the battlecry, but the unrelenting, merciless presence of war. If a character makes a choice, then someone else will pay the consequence. If someone wants to fly, the world will pull them down. If someone finds hope, it gets snatched from their hands.
Van Poelgeest accomplishes a mind-boggling balance in this comic between poetic nuance and severe reality. Little Bird offers elevated sentimentality in its narration, but doesn’t permit you settle into that comfort. Letterer Aditya Bidikar has created Little Bird’s narrations to be handwritten on ripped pieces of paper, which imbue her words with a sense of necessity, like she absolutely had to get these sentiments to us at the eleventh-hour. Little Bird narrates like a gentle poet, but her thoughtful words are constantly subverted by the chaos of violence. What she’s saying always feels disconnected from what’s happening in real-time. She tells us about all of the grand things inside of her that make her more than just a girl, but when the bloodshed inevitably strikes again it jolts us back down into the thick of it where Little Bird’s still a little girl in a world consumed by war.
This is a densely-packed series that demands detective work from the reader. Issue #3 doesn’t give you answers. You’ll become more acutely aware of what questions you should be asking, and the details will tantalize you, but you won’t arrive quite yet. It would be a complete failure on my part not to say that the art alone in this book will make you want to read it over and over again anyway, purely for the privilege of looking at it. It is a gift to see into the owl’s eyes, to watch Little Bird run, to see the glimmers of a dream float wistfully by on the wind. Ian Bertram and Matt Hollingsworth have created a singular, decisive, and distinct aesthetic for Little Bird that demands awe and respect.
I’ll admit, it’s rare for me to highly anticipate an upcoming comic release. Like many of you, I’m sure, my attention span is constantly being challenged. If it’s not moving and making noise it’s harder to pay attention to. As I’m writing this, I’ve got six tabs open, an issue of Little Bird open on my left, and a movie on my TV is playing in front of me. And despite my mushy millennial stimulus-raddled brain, I can. not. stop. thinking about what happens next in this comic. I can not wait to follow the winding bridges back to the events that have shaped Little Bird. If you are thirsty for original, challenging, beautiful stories in your life—please, pick up Little Bird.
Image Comics / $3.99
Written by Darcy Van Poelgeest.
Lines by Ian Bertram.
Colors by Matt Hollingsworth.
Letters by Aditya Bidikar.
9 out of 10
Check out this 3-page preview of ‘Little Bird’ #3, courtesy of Image Comics!