Post-apocalyptic survival tales, from The Walking Dead to Mad Max: Fury Road, have been all the rage as of late, even to the point of excess in some cases. While over-saturation and watered-down ripoffs are always a concern (and, honestly, are expected) when a specific genre like this takes off, one “wasteland warrior” tale that is certainly worth your time is the premier issue of the indie comic The Birdlander written by Aaron Walther and illustrated by Ed Bickford.
MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
The Birdlander #1 is described by its illustrator as “…Miyazaki meets Mad Max meets Moebius,” and that’s a pretty fair description of what to expect from this book. Featuring a dangerous and desolate future full of giant lizards (or “dragons”), slavers, and worse, the first issue of The Birdlander introduces both the legendary figure behind the comic’s title and its cool, capable, and charismatic lead character who is tracking him down. The dragon-riding, somewhat Jedi-like Birdlander adds a feeling of supernatural mystery to the tale, while Sumi, all “badass and dreadlocks,” is sure to connect with most readers given her roguish personality and hints of a dark past.
Walther has crafted a perfect “pilot episode” for the continuing web comic with this first issue of The Birdlander and manages to walk the line, tonally, between gritty sci-fi and fantastical folklore. While the influences of Mad Max and the post-apocalyptic genre are clearly and undeniably present, Walther manages to carve his own take from similar stone.
Bickford also brings his talent, full force, to the project, giving The Birdlander a cinematic and naturalistic visual style that shares the emotional quality present in the sequential art featured in Image Comics‘ The Walking Dead comic series. Bickford makes every panel and every character feel like something that really exists in this “lived-in” and weathered world.
FINAL VERDICT: Don’t hesitate to seek out The Birdlander #1. This book features everything from warriors riding lizards to battle-weaponized vehicles, a strong-willed and extremely skilled woman of color in the lead role, and an excellent start to a story that feels like a lost treasure from a missing issue of Heavy Metal. Trust me, comic book sniffers, this one is tons of fun even if you haven’t been huffing the silver stuff!
You can find out more about The Birdlander by visiting the official website.
‘Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer