Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review - The Birdlander #1


"Fire a friend flare and get into position. And get somebody up on the big gun!"

Friends are hard enough to come by in today's world. Real friends that is--you can have as many followers and friends as you want, but how many of them would you trust to have your back when things get dicey? It's a question that's often asked of players in an apocalypse and one character is grateful to find some friends in The Birdlander #1. The issue is written by Aaron Walther and illustrated by Ed Bickford.

In a post apocalyptic world overrun by dinosaurs, a young woman named Sumi searches for a legendary warrior known as The Birdlander.

Sumi acts as the main character for The Birdlander #1, even though Walther doesn't rely on her exclusively to carry the plot. Her arrival at a settlement does serve as the catalyst for the rest of the issue, but Walther instead uses one of the other characters' interactions with Sumi as a way to build the background. It's a pretty effectively storytelling device, as it both establishes the stakes for Sumi and explains why the apocalypse in The Birdlander #1 is different from any other apocalypse. It's oversimplifying things to say that the book is really just one long simple conversation, yet it's that conversation that feels well-thought out and complete. Walther paces the tale evenly and doesn't really rush into things, giving the readers bigger and bigger pieces of story to chew as the tale progresses.

The Birdlander #1 leverages the ambiguous art style of Bickford to create a world teetering on the brink of complete desolation. Characters are rendered with little attention to the minute details; instead, Bickford illustrates each character as more of a basic representation of the state of things. There's a lot of attention paid to faces and their expressions--something Bickford relies on to further impress upon the reader that some level of joy can still be found in such a horrid wasteland. The entire book is largely black and white which reflects the relative simplicity inherent to living in a world broken down to the most basic component of survival. Panel layouts range from standard grids to insets and overlays, breaking up the story and adjusting to the chance in action accordingly.

The Birdlander #1 is a first issue that offers the requisite amount of information about it to get the reader hooked. Sumi is searching for a mythical figure in the Birdlander who has a reputation for being the most feared and mysterious being in existence. Walther's script is clean and straightforward, steadily working towards and ending that reveals the stakes for Sumi to contend with in the remaining issues of the series. Bickford's illustrations are simple yet captivating, presenting a barren world that claims survivors with competing interests struggling to survive. The Birdlander #1 is a great first issue that leads into a webcomic and should present a pretty fascinating tale to follow.

The Birdlander #1 is available now.

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