Where have I been lately? Well, in case you didn’t know, the 2018 Peyongchang Olympics are on! I don’t normally watch TV, but it’s hard for me not to watch these games. The Winter Olympics have been taking away from the time I typically spend on reading and blogging. Oops! This brings us to a wonderful trade paperback graphic novel: Feathers.
It’s hard to clearly define what kind of story Feathers is. Is it a Hunchback of Notre Dame retelling? Beauty and the Beast retelling? Steampunk or Victorian dystopian fantasy? All I know is that it’s beautiful and captivating.
Feathers explores the story of Poe, an adopted boy born with feathers and hollow bones. Poe lives in a Dicken-esque world called the Maze filled with thieving orphans and poverty. He is the only one who looks like he does, and his adoptive father shelters him from the world for unknown reasons. Bianca, a girl who lives, “behind the wall”, runs away when she accompanies her father on a business trip to the Maze. She wants to see the world and obviously runs into Poe. Thus, their adventures begin.
The art of Feathers is very striking to me. Busy frames are filled with buildings and detail, yet the characters never feel crowded out. They each have their own distinctive movements and facial expressions– something I’ve never noticed with a cast of characters this large. Each of the characters is quite memorable, as well. I didn’t find myself questioning, “Wait, do I know this character?” Gabriel, Lord Chappelle, the White Guide– they all fit perfectly into their world, without detracting from each other too much. Unique, but not outlandish. Very good. The art also has a slightly romantic air to it, which I find appealing.
Our heroes live in a world divided, and this is easy to see even when the topic is not being addressed. Poe, or Feathers as Bianca calls him, is a memorable character due to his figure. Feathers, goggles, and wiry body are easy to identify. Bianca is easily his foil in a pink and white dress with auburn hair. These serve as visual representations of the varying worlds they come from, which echo the protagonist colorings: Poe’s life in the Maze is filled with purples, blues, indigoes, greys, and blacks. Bianca’s world behind the wall is cream, tan, white, and peach. I love how this classism follows our heroes everywhere and becomes a prevalent part of their lives.
We also have two unidentified narrator-types, which also echo this division. I’ve heard some people describe this device as “clunky”, but I disagree. I wonder if this is because I’ve read Good Omens? From the beginning I immediately think of Azraphale and Crowley– we are given the impression that a good and an evil omnipotent being are placing bets and challenging each other. Or, maybe it’s because I’ve seen Trading Places? I don’t know. It’s a familiar plot device: A bet is made, and we aren’t certain who to root for, but in the end, neither will win. I have some ideas of where this is going, but I’ll keep that to myself for now.
Feathers is a bit predictable but in a charming fable-esque way. I will admit, I was surprised to learn who our whistling antagonist was, and why he fell into the “antagonist” bucket, but this is a good sign for me. I am quite good (annoyingly so) at predicting where a story will go. Frequently, surprises are ruined for me by my forward thinking. This one surprise makes me think that Corona is only luring us into a false sense of security. Everything feels so familiar in plot, art, and character development. Familiar is safe. Safety is often an illusion.
I look forward to more issues of Feathers and seeing what happens to our young heroes. I can’t wait to find out if there are more surprises waiting, too!
What do you think?
- Have you read any of Feathers? What do you think?
- Do you enjoy “undefined narrators”? What are some examples of other undefined narrators in literature?
- What Hunchback of Notre Dame retellings are you familiar with? I can’t think of any!