Forgive us now, and at the hour of our death (Little Bird #2 “The Fight for Elder’s Hope, Chapter Two” Comic Review)

Created by: Ian Bertram & Darcy Van Poelgeest

Written by: Darcy Van Poelgeest

Art by: Ian Bertram

Colors by: Matt Hollingsworth

Letters by: Aditya Bidikar

Design by: Ben Didier

Sometimes hope exists in a much more concrete sense than you’d think.

In This Issue: At the end of issue #1 we left Little Bird for dead, but, like many things in this book, her death was not what it seemed. In a dream-state, Little Bird is reunited with her mother, Tantoo, who explains that the plane in which Little Bird has found herself is the Eye of the Owl; a place where the passage of time can split in infinite directions, “a living map of where you’ve been, and—if studied closely—where you’re going.” Tantoo shows Little Bird where their path began, when Tantoo attempted to take her own life, and Little Bird’s life within her, but failed. The fall that should have killed her didn’t, and she needed to know why. Tantoo’s search led her to information about The Axe, and the resistance. She fled New Vatican.

At this point in her story, Tantoo is engulfed in flames and the story continues back in New Vatican. Here, we meet Gabriel, the Vicar of Christ’s (or Bishop, as he is commonly known,) son. Gabriel is ill with a disease for which no one has been be to cure. Bishop takes Gabriel to a secret, secure location somewhere underneath the city where he has imprisoned Tantoo, who is dead enough to be in the state where, like Little Bird, she can visit the Eye of the Owl. Bishop explains to Gabriel about the Resurrection Gene, a trait engineered during the Human Modification Project which allows anyone coded with it to survive pretty much anything—until now. Bishop tells Gabriel how he tried and failed to create a cure for Gabriels disease with the Resurrection Gene from The Axe, and then from Tantoo. Tantoo’s betrayal and the subsequent lack of a cure to be found in her genetic makeup has pushed Bishop to the limit, bit it’s not enough just to have found and then employ the means through which to destroy a holder of the Resurrection Gene—Bishop effectively forces Gabriel to be the one to light the fire.

Tantoo’s disappearance into the flames is the catalyst for Little Bird’s return to the living world. She claws herself out of her shallow grave to the familiar face of Oki, her owl companion. After a brief but violent encounter with a mechanical search party from Northern Guard and a daring rescue by Captain Delyth Evans, wanted defector from the state, Little Bird is back in the presence of The Axe, who takes her to the stronghold of the resistance: Elder’s Hope.

My Two Cents: The second installment of Little Bird gives us some integral insight into the history of the conflict at the heart of the story. Yes, of course there is the overarching theme of blind faith versus free will, and that in itself is enough to keep a reader pondering the deeper implications of societal uniformity, but there are ancillary forces at work here. We are subtly guided toward the contemplation of complicated questions fraught with “ifs”, “ands”, an “buts”. There are echoes of eugenics, Holocaust-level exterminations, inquisitory tactics, and the promotion of crusadian-type enforcement of faith-centered tyranny. These would be heavy enough on their own, but in the interest of good storytelling we are also faced with the concept of familial duty and personal morals. Little Bird is rife with subjects you could spend an age unpacking, and that’s just within the story and writing. The art and color add a tangible pull into the world of the story, leaving the reader with a physical feeling of having experienced the events in the issues and a certain emotional tenseness that lingers, gently prodding the reader’s mind with leftover thought trails encouraging them to make sense of what they’ve read through their own lens.

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Elizabeth Fazzio
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--https://makeitok.org
Elizabeth Fazzio
Summary
I can't read this book anywhere near bedtime. There are two reasons for this. One, Little Bird gives me the best kind of screaming heebie-jeebies, and two, it tips my brain into overdrive and chases me down world-reflecting rabbit holes. There are so many layers to this story, and so much of it is frighteningly relevant to our time. When I finished my first read of issue #2 it sent me away in desperate need of a shower and a Valium—there is something about Bertram's art, some quality it retains, that leaves me feeling as though I've been sitting inside an immensely terrifying dust cloud. The narrative properties of that dust cloud are beautifully and perfectly presented. You don't have to think to follow the path of the story which is something I appreciate when there is so much happening on a single page. Relationships and hierarchies and theocratic machinations...oh my.
Good
  • Texture in the art
  • Art and story blend seamlessly
  • Seamless worldbuilding
  • Story elements are balanced
  • Layered storytelling
Bad
  • I have to schedule reading time for this one or I'll have strange and unpleasant dreams
8.8
Great
Art - 9
Story - 9
Writing - 9
Predictability - 8
Written by
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--https://makeitok.org

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