Best New #1 Comics March 2019 - Little Bird, Lazarus Risen, and more

By Zack Quaintance — March 2019 felt like a momentous month for new comics, launching as it did a number of series that seem destined for long runs. We will, of course, discuss all of these books in depth below, but let me just note now that a month is pretty significant when it launches series like Invisible Kingdom, Assassin Nation, and Little Bird, with some of those coming out on the same day! And that’s to say nothing of…

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An Interview with the Creators of Image’s Newest Hit Comic, Little Bird

Little Bird #1 is available now.

By Zack Quaintance — Little Bird #1 was published yesterday by Image Comics, marking the debut of one of the most imaginative and madcap new series I’ve come across in some time. As I wrote in my Little Bird #1 review, this is a great first issue comic made with a high level of craftsmanship. Simply put, it’s not to be missed.

I liked it so much, in fact, that I was compelled to learn more about the book’s creators. So, I reached out to writer Darcy Van Poelgeest and artist Ian Bertram to literally ask them who exactly are you people and how did you come together to make something so damn good? They were gracious enough to answer that silly question (along with several others). Their answers are below.

Let’s check it out...

Q: Thank you both so much for your time. I read (and loved) Little Bird #1, and I’m excited to learn more about you and your process. Can I start by asking for those who are unfamiliar...who exactly are you people and how did you come together to make something so damn good? 

DVP: I’m a writer and filmmaker and Little Bird is my first trek into the comics-verse. Ian is by far more interesting than I am so I’ll probably just leave it at that. As far how we met; I sort of want to spin something more interesting than the truth here and tell you that Ian and I met on a dating site or something but the truth is I saw his work online and emailed him. After a few extended conversations and a script it was on.

Ian: What can I say about the one and only Darcy Van Peolgeest. He’s a genius. He’s a gentleman. He’s a warrior and truth teller. He’s pure. He. Is. Batman.

And we met when Darcy reached out to me about 5 years ago with the first concept for Little Bird. We just inspired each other and went from there. It’s been a great trip.

Q: I was blown away by the sheer amount of story packed into this debut comic. I did my best in our review to tell the audience why they should read this book, but before we get into other questions about process, what's the pitch for Little Bird #1 you might give to someone wondering whether they should check it out?

DVP: LITTLE BIRD follows a young resistance fighter who battles against an oppressive American Empire while searching for her own identity. A story about a girl who’s been born into a war she can’t quite understand and her journey to end the war and find out who and what she really is. As long as you’re not easily offended - I’m pretty sure most everyone can find a window into this story or just kick back and enjoy the insanity that we’ve created.

Ian: First off, thank you for such an excellent review. One of the things Darcy and I wanted to do was drop the reader into a fully formed world with just a compass. No map. Why are there insane surreal monsters lurking in the basement of this sci-fi prison? What are their monstrous stories? Darcy and I have our ideas about who they are, but it’s so much more fun to let the reader craft their stories. It’s showing the tip of iceberg. Underneath the waves is a vast Lovecraftian shape dropping away from sight and into the ice deep. 

Q: One of the things I really loved about Little Bird was the interesting pastiche of thematic interests, ranging from nationalism to religion to incarceration to man vs. nature...I could keep going. And I think the same can be said of the aesthetic. Yet it all coheres so nicely. With that in mind, what was the collaborative process like and how communicative were you during the writing/illustrating of this book?

DVP: I think the collaboration between Ian and myself is really at the heart of this whole thing, and we’ve discussed this quite a bit. Coming from film my approach was to have everyone as involved as possible. Not to hand off a script and have it continue down an assembly line but to have the script be a living document from where we all worked. That included getting notes and ideas from Ian to add back into the script or just letting him do his thing on certain scenes. I prefer to discuss as much of it as possible because as a director that’s where I was most comfortable - walking through the scene, seeing how Ian felt about it while getting his ideas and working them in so that he’s adding his own voice in there as a storyteller. This extends to the whole team. Everyone was encouraged to have a voice in this. As far as all the thematic interests... I have a very busy mind.

Ian: Agreed. This really was a true collaboration. We felt like we could try anything, which really opened everything up. Nothing was sacred and nothing was profane. We found our characters and world together. Ha, we really spoiled each other, and there is no going back.

Q: Darcy, as I understand it this is your first comic. How did the creative process for you differ from working in film? 

DVP: Well as I suggested in the last question, it didn’t differ too much in terms of a creative approach. I think in the first issue I tried to do bit more of what I thought it meant to “make a comic” but by the second issue I was able to throw that away a bit (with a lot of encouragement from Ian) and just started working in a way I was more comfortable. That gave Ian more freedom to bring his voice into it as well. Comics are a more intimate format. There’s a creative freedom in working with a small team like this but at the same time being able to achieve something story-wise that would call for a large budget in a film. It was a very freeing experience.

Q: Little Bird #1’s story felt really compressed in a good way to me, a way that’s unique to comics. With only five chapters to work within, how did you both decide what to pack into this first installment, in terms of what to reveal and what to leave for later in the story?

DVP: There’s a lot of comics that would have broken that up into two issues but, and this is maybe a strange thing to say, comics are fucking expensive and we wanted everyone to just get a ton of bang for their buck. It was also important to spend enough time with Little Bird in that first issue so that people become invested in the character. I read a lot of first issues where even though I like a lot of what’s going on; in terms of how the story has been set up, but I don’t give shit about the character so I don’t bother picking up the next one.

And when it comes to deciding what makes it in and what doesn’t… I leave a lot out at times. I’d rather the reader have questions than answers they don’t need. Anyway, I’m rambling. Quick, Ian - say something smart!

Ian: Darcy blew me away by how he was able to pace this book. I would base my pages on his script, and then he would look at the pages I turned in and retrofit the script to the pages. I tried to pack as much visual information into these pages as possible. I wanted to overload readers, and then give them a space to breath. But Darcy brought this to a whole new level. He writes beautifully and the reader knows they are in good hands. Hands that will guide them through a strange and violent world with care.

Q: Ian, I was absolutely floored by the sheer imagination in the artwork, from the clothing to the genetic enhancements we see on some of the characters. I could cite some visual inspirations I thought I saw, but I’d rather just come out and ask: what were some of the works that inspired you in creating Little Bird?

Ian: Thank you! One thing that I did with Little Bird was avoid comics as forms of inspiration. I wanted to have Little Bird be an opportunity to delve into the subconscious and pull out whatever was the most striking. I know there are near infinite numbers of influences floating around down there (every first kiss, every secret, every lie, every death, every dream, every fear, all wrapped in flesh and tentacles and tree bark). I just wanted to see what strange brew would be brought back to the surface. As a general rule anything that made me uncomfortable had to be included. 

Q: Darcy, I guess I’ll ask the same question of you...this is an almost aggressively original world and story, as a writer, were you thinking of any narratives—fictional or otherwise—while scripting this book?  

DVP: I really wasn’t thinking of any existing work unless it was Ian’s. I studied his work and I wrote for him. I treated it as though I work for him and my job is to deliver something to him that inspires him to do great work.

Q: For readers like me who have already finished and loved the first issue, can you tell us anything about what we should expect as Little Bird continues?

DVP: Expect some really gorgeous storytelling from Ian. Expect something vaguely familiar that arrives from a uniquely personal place.

Ian: We definitely keep up the pace as the book goes on. It’s a full tilt ride. Also we really cement the weird physics of the world. Which allows us to experiment with setting and narrative in cool ways.

Q: This comic felt like a bit of a statement for you both within comics, announcing your arrival to broader audiences. I think it’s going to be huge, and, because comics is such a forward-looking medium, I’m already wondering what your ideal follow up projects would be if you had your pick. Anything in mind?

DVP: I’m working on another dream project. I think we tried something interesting with Little Bird and my only goal now is to just push that further. Learn from this experience and make something even more honest, and more fun the next time around. I’m just exploring right now and I’m as curious as anyone to see where it all goes.

Ian: Thank you! I really hope people enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed making it. Without saying too much there is something next for Darcy and I.

Q: Finally, this is a five-issue miniseries but the world in the first issue seems so vast. What are the chances that this story might extend beyond these first five issues?

DVP: Zack, honestly – we need to speak again when the series is finished!

Ian: Ha, Agreed!

Little Bird #1 is available now from Image Comics.

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

Top Comics to Buy for March 13, 2019 - Catwoman, House Amok, Little Bird, and more

By Zack Quaintance — Phew, I just flew home from SXSW and boy are my arms exhausted! Kidding. That was incredibly lame and also I’m still physically at SXSW for one more day, but, you know, you can use the Internet from anywhere, so let nothing get in the way of our comics recommendations. How are the comics this week? Well, we’ve got a good mix of solid beginnings and exciting endings.

In the finale column, we have Cover and House Amok, which regular readers will likely recognize as two of our favorites around these part, with the former being an intimate and gorgeous meta take on the industry and the latter an unnerving dive into shared familial psychosis. Most notably in the debuts column we have Little Bird, which is quite possibly poised to be the best new comic of the year (stay tuned for an interview with the book’s creators later this week). So there, stage set for another great week.

Now, let’s take a look at the comics!

Top Comics to Buy for March 13, 2019

Little Bird #1 (
read our full review!)
Darcy Van Poelgeest
Artist: Ian Bertram
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
Director/screenwriter DARCY VAN POELGEEST boasts a long list of awards and accolades for his storytelling prowess and brings the same writing finesse to IAN BERTRAM's breathtakingly detailed artwork in the gorgeous, hyper-detailed miniseries LITTLE BIRD.
Why It’s Cool: Is it enough to just say that this debut issue absolutely rules and these creators are destined to be stars? Because that’s first and foremost why this book is cool, but if you need more (and still haven’t read our Little Bird #1 review), I can also go on to tell you that this is a new #1 that absolutely brims with electric story, as ambitious as it is tense and beautiful, this is as imaginative as a comic as we’ve seen all year. It’s very very good, and you’ll want to get a copy now before it sells out and starts going for major bucks on eBay.

Catwoman #9
Ram V.
Artist: John Timms
Letterer: Josh Reed
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
When crooks break into the pawn shop where Catwoman has set up her secret headquarters, they make off with a personal item that she has to get back. The trail of loot leads her to the Broker, the man who moves all illicit merchandise in Villa Hermosa. Now, Catwoman could just walk in and ask for her property back, but that's never been Catwoman's style. Instead, she's going to pull off a heist that will teach her foe a lesson, making sure the Broker never crosses the Cat ever again. This special one-off issue is written by acclaimed writer Ram V. (BATMAN: SECRET FILES) and artist John Timms (HARLEY QUINN).
Why It’s Cool: We’ve been calling this run of Catwoman underrated for weeks, and we’d like to reiterate that again here before moving on to discussing this individual issue. Catwoman #9 is essentially a break issue for the normal creative team of Joelle Jones (singular...although she’s been spelled lately by Elena Casagrande and Fernando Blanco), presumably so she can write and draw forthcoming issues. What’s nice is DC has brought in rising star writer Ram V., fresh off a fantastic Batman one shot story in the recent Secret Files one-shot. Ram V. is a favorite of ours from his creator-owned work, and this one-off issue is a great example of why. Highly recommended!

House Amok #5
Christopher Sebela
Artist: Shawn McManus
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Publisher: IDW - Black Crown
Price: $3.99
Read our review of House Amok #1
Ten-year-old twin Dylan Sandifer is now in the driver's seat of more than the converted old school bus her family called home for a summer murder spree. Will she turn on her family and the sacred bond between twins and break free from the shared madness? Conspiracy theories, organ thieves, and secret histories collide in the explosive final issue!
Why It’s Cool: This second wave of IDW - Black Crown titles—Euthanauts, Lodger, and House Amok—can do no wrong, as far as we’re concerned. They’ve all been consistently excellent while also bringing something new to the imprint. In the case of House Amok, that something has been nuanced and complex psychological drama, centered on an actual affliction that has to do with shared psychosis...and then filtered back by a little girl protagonist who breaks free and recognizes something is wrong. It’s a lot, and it’s all written and drawn to nigh-perfection by Christopher Sebela and Shawn McManus, respectively. This issue marks the House Amok finale, and we are as delighted as we are scared to find out what it holds.  

Livewire #4
Vita Ayala
Artists: Raul Allen with Patricia Martin
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Price: $3.99
Read our review of Livewire #3!
Once, Livewire dreamed of devoting herself to the betterment of humankind. Now, her most steadfastly held ideals are about to be tested like never before as she struggles to stay alive in the clutches of a fearsome new foe! But who is the mysterious psiot mercenary hunting her...and more importantly, who do they work for?
Why It’s Cool: The summary text really nails it when it says, Livewire’s “most steadfastly held ideals are about to be tested like never before as she struggles to stay alive…”...which could really be a tagline for this entire run to date. Last summer during Valiant’s Harbinger Wars 2 event, protagonist Livewire took some drastic (and violent) measures to protect those close to her, and now this creative team is hellbent on simultaneously making her earn redemption while not backing down from the injustices that forced her hand in the slightest. It’s a tour de force in powerful storytelling, and it’s making Livewire one of our favorite superhero comics, month in and month out.

Superman #9
Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Ivan Reis, Brandon Peterson
Inker: Joe Prado
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Josh Reed
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
The secrets of the house of El are revealed as the Unity Saga continues! Traveling through space, young Jon Kent has faced everything the universe could throw at him, but after an accident sends him and his grandfather Jor-El across dimensions, the new Superboy comes face to face with a terrifyingly evil version of his own father: Ultraman and his horrible version of the Justice League, the Crime Syndicate! Find out what happened to Superman's father and how Jon made it back home from this strange and crime-ridden alternate world.
Why It’s Cool: There is just no upper limit on the grandiosity of this run. In fact, the regular creative team of Brian Bendis and Ivan Reis have been upping the scale of this ongoing Unity Saga every issue, introducing more (and more bonkers) ideas into the plot, be it an out-of-his-mind Jor-El, a newly-powerful (and controversially older) Jon Kent, or the evil alternate reality Justice League known as the Crime Syndicate. They’re all coming together here as we get more of the backstory about what transpired in deep space between the three of them. This outsized Superman comic is a nice compliment to the more character-heavy and grounded Action Comics, another current favorite around these parts.

Top New #1 Comics

  • Age of Conan: Belit #1

  • Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and the X-Tracts #1

  • Assassin Nation #1

  • Batman Who Laughs: Grim Knight #1

  • Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1

  • Uncanny X-Men: Winters End #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #2

  • Amazing Spider-Man #17

  • By Night #9

  • Cover #6

  • Hawkman #10

  • Laguardia #4

  • Long Con #7

  • Murder Falcon #6

  • Oblivion Song #13

  • Prodigy #4

  • Shuri #6

  • Supergirl #28

  • Tony Stark: Iron Man #9

  • Wonder Twins #2

  • Wonder Woman #66

Check back to the site later this week for reviews of Assassin Nation #1 (which has a character named F*ck Tarkington), House Amok #5, Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1, and more!

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

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

ADVANCED REVIEW: Little Bird #1 is an imaginative, and powerful debut...think Saga or God Country

Little Bird #1 is out 3/13/2019.

By Zack Quaintance — Little Bird #1 is one hell of a debut comic, a likely contender best #1 comic of the year. I know we’re only halfway through the second month, but is so good that I’m confident in saying that. Little Bird #1 is the type of immersive story you pick up, blink, and realize you’ve read the whole thing without stopping, without even considering putting it down. So yes, it’s very good, and I highly recommend comics fans read it.

I could stop there, but (obviously) the lot of the comics reviewer is such that I’m here to also explain why. With Little Bird, it’s fitting to start with a discussion of the art. Ian Bertram’s phenomenal linework and sequential storytelling is the first thing that grabs reader attention, as well as the biggest factor in why the story feels so immersive. A big question I had by the end of it was who the hell is Ian Bertram and why have I not yet heard of him?

Well, mostly because Bertram has done a handful of superhero stories, some webcomics, and, perhaps most recently, a six-issue 2016 miniseries for Dark Horse Comics called House of Penance written by Peter Tomasi about the Winchester House in Northern California (which I obviously missed). He’s not a total unknown, but he’s far from a major name comics. I predict that will change once Little Bird finds the audience it deserves. Bertram’s work here is incredible, as singular as it is gorgeous.

His linework is the wavy, detailed style I associate with Frank Quitely (and others who came after him, like Jon Davis-Hunt or Ramon Villalobos), and his designs for everything from characters to clothing to genetically-enhanced bodies to the fiery floating nun woman (you read that right) to buildings—I could continue but I’ll stop and note everything is rendered with an ideal balance of intricacy and imagination. There are touches here of Moebius and Jodorowsky, of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, Fiona Staple’s designs in Saga, the overblown carnage of that one big fight scene in Kill Bill, and the list goes on. Bertram’s keen visuals coalesce to create something all its own, augmented and made possible by the vital rhythm section of Matt Hollingsworth’s colors and Aditya Bidikar’s lettering. All three deserve much credit.

Darcy Van Poelgeest—a first-time comic book writer with a background in film—gives the top-tier art much to work with via his scripting. I was particularly impressed with how compressed and dense Van Poelgeest’s story felt. Often times for creators from other mediums—especially film—there is a tendency to decompress comics, as one might a storyboard. Van Poelgeest, however, packs more into his first three pages than some new creators would an entire opening arc, immediately justifying why comics are being use to tell this story. The first line is poetic, the first pages rich with expository details that don’t feel forced. The child character (the titular Little Bird) is an automatic means of engendering sympathy, while a militaristic speech clues us in to the world’s high stakes.

This is an advanced review, though, so I’m hesitant to get more specific. I’ll just say that the level of world-building and imagination on display is strong, conveying grandiose vision while using the main character as an anchor to keep readers from drifting into disorientation. There are ample twists and many unpredictable reveals.   

If I have a small qualm, it’s that I think the full story needs to justify the gruesome violence that occurs here (there are hints it will but we still need to wait to see if the story delivers). Also, I know this is silly, but I’m salty about it only spanning five issues. I know I know, and I appreciate creators who have a specific vision...but hey, maybe Little Bird will be such a success that it will get expanded, rendering its first lineprophetic, This doesn’t end here. Not like this.

Overall: A nigh-perfect debut, by the end of Little Bird #1 I found myself already melancholic that the series is only five issues. Simply put, if Little Bird continues this high a level of storytelling, we’ll all have to mention it in conversations about Image’s creator-owned resurgence, right alongside Saga, Wicked + Divine, God Country, etc.. This is one fine comic. 9.8/10

Little Bird #1 (of 5)
Darcy Van Poelgeest
Artist: Ian Bertram
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
Release Date:
March 13, 2019

For more comic book reviews, check out our review archives.

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