REVIEW: Little Bird #3 continues to establish this series as something special

Little Bird #3 is out 5/15/2019.

By Zack Quaintance — Little Bird #1 was, simply put, one hell of a comic. You can read more about it in my Little Bird #1 review (obviously), but for our purposes today I’ll just note the book grabbed readers with its striking and imaginative aesthetic, before plunging them into one of the most searing sci-fi dystopian plotlines I’ve yet to see in a comic. It felt urgent, like its creators had something important they needed to say and they needed to say it right now. Oh, and—SPOILER ALERT—the titular Little Bird gets shot through the neck toward the end.

Little Bird #2, marked a bit of a departure, insofar as a sophomore issue can to do that. It was starkly different from its preceding chapter. Instead of pushing forward significantly with the revolution of sorts we saw started/rekindled in the debut, we found ourselves exploring Little Bird’s injured dreams. That issue had me by its third page, specifically at the line the hero’s mother uses to orient her: The world you know is only an island, the peak of a mountain sitting above the surface of our perception. I love stories that explore the idea that our reality is a mystery and should be taken at surface level, and this one is all the more interesting because it also deals heavily with ideas of religion. The story in #2 proceeds with that line as sort of a thesis statement that enables both writer and artist to do unexpected and freeing work. They  explore the backstory and family history of our wounded Little Bird, before returning to our revolution.

This is all a means of explaining that by its third issue, Little Bird had essentially entrenched itself in my mind as the best new creator-owned comic of 2019. I was, of course, excited for the third chapter, and I’m happy to say here it did not disappoint. On the contrary, Little Bird #3 is yet another installment of this story that absolutely obliterated my expectations. First things first, artist Ian Bertram is a towering talent, one whose work on this series will presumably entrench him among the top-tier of artists working in this industry. It’s not just that everything Bertram draws in this issue looks fantastic, it’s that he’s creating the vast majority of it from scratch, be it genetically modified peoples or even drab locales like conference rooms overlooking plains.

In terms of plotting, Little Bird #3 is somewhat of a hybrid between the fast-paced opening chapter and the more cerebral question-raising follow-up issue. It’s a blend that few series manage to pull-off, and even fewer as well as it is done here by Little Bird. What I especially liked about this issue was that it put our hero in a place where she had agency and was making consequential decisions somewhat often, starting where she has the chance to free a potentially-dangerous captive who has shown her kindness in the past. Not only is she making these choices, but these choices are often given weight later as our plot moves forward.

I could go on. Truly, there’s so much to be said/written about a comic of this quality. I will, however, stop myself here and just encourage you all to get in on the ground level of this series. It really is that good.

Overall: These is, perhaps, no better new series in comics than Little Bird, which in its third issue is as surprising, gorgeous, and immersive as the two that have come before. Every issue in this series has been highly compressed, yet over-sized, giving it an urgency generosity of storytelling that speaks to the passion in the work being done. 10/10

Little Bird #3
Darcy Van Poelgeest
Artist: Ian Bertram
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Aditya Bidkar
Publisher: Image Comics

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Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.