Review – Feathers #2 (of 6) (BOOM! Studios)

Archaia_Feathers_002_A_MainPublisher: BOOM! Studios (Archaia)
Writer/Artist: Jorge Corona
Release Date: 4th February, 2014

After a strong opening chapter, the second issue of Jorge Corona’s Feathers looks to capitalise on that early momentum, expanding on the story of Poe, a young boy inexplicably born entirely covered in thick black feathers. The first issue had all the hallmarks of a classic Grimm fairy tale and instantly drew me into the rich world that Corona had created, with its unfair class imbalance and mysterious whispered prophecies.

This second issue once again places characterisation over exposition, focusing on the blossoming friendship between Bianca and Poe. There’s a clumsy charm to their interactions that give this book an undeniable sense of warmth, and Bianca’s wide-eyed enthusiasm about the relative squalor of the ‘Maze’ contrasts beautifully with Poe’s burning desire to make it into the walled city – hopefully gaining acceptance about his appearance in the process. Unfortunately however, two of the most compelling aspects from the first issue – the menacing, ‘Pied Piper’-esque child-snatcher and the two enigmatic duelling narrators – are sadly absent here, with the result being that this particular chapter doesn’t quite ‘pop’ the way it probably should.

We do however get a chance to find out a little more about the band of ragamuffin orphans (cruelly dubbed ‘Mice’ by the rest of the Maze’s inhabitants), and Corona plants an intriguing storyline seed regarding the mysterious guardian of the walled city – a woman clad in beautiful white feathers. There’s undoubtedly a bigger picture at play here, but after two issues of scene-setting and character establishment, the series really needs to decide where it’s going, and sooner rather than later. The trails of storyline breadcrumbs are scattered in a lot of different directions, and Corona needs to pick one and start following it otherwise I’m worried that the charm and innocence of the main characters is gradually going to wear off.

One thing that’s every bit as sharp as the first issue is Corona’s vibrant artwork and expressive characters, with this issue containing some truly standout moments – particularly during the scene where Poe grudgingly embraces his reputation as the ‘Ghost of the Maze’, with hilarious results. Bianca and Poe’s interactions are rendered beautifully, with the former’s adventurous grins and the latter’s wide-eyed shellshock injecting a sense of fun into the proceedings, and the oppressive architecture of the ‘Maze’ continues to give a distinct, almost Dickensian aesthetic to the book.

Overall, Feathers remains a strong all-ages offering from the folks at Archaia, albeit one which may be suffering ever so slightly at the moment from its episodic format. As one continual story, this could be seen as just a slight lull, but as an issue all on its own, it does fall just a little flat – at least compared to the opening chapter. That said, the charm and excitement of Poe and Bianca’s growing friendship is more than enough to warrant the cover price for the time being, and once the real meat of the story gets going, I have no doubt this series is going to become pretty much essential reading. Watch this space, folks.

Rating: 3/5.

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576682_510764502303144_947146289_nThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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