A feathered boy with a prophetic future is found abandoned in the Maze, slums that stretch out from the white-walled City of order and cleanliness. Poe, the feathered boy, grows up living life in the night, only able to be seen in public when covered and disguised. He grows protective of his surroundings in the Maze, desiring community with the orphaned children of the Maze. The orphans are called mice and are treated like pests by other denizens of the Maze. Poe wants to connect to them, but is not allowed to interact with regular humans on his Pop’s orders, unaware that revealing his true feathered self could lead not only to personal danger, but danger for their entire world. But chaos and order meet when a young girl from the city meets Poe and sees his true self.
While the publisher does not provide a rating, the story centers around an 11 year old boy, and the vocabulary and plot structure is appropriate for kids who have started to read fantasy novels with some depth, such as Tamora Pierce, Terry Pratchett, Diana Wynne Jones, and Garth Nix. The book remains true to its audience—it’s not trying to loop in all ages. Older readers may find it a bit corny, but can’t deny that it’s adorable. Younger readers will find it exciting and engaging, and with the story extras, perhaps inspiring to make their own stories. It’s a cohesive story within a nicely self-contained world, with opportunities for expansion through sequels or spin-offs. Older readers might be frustrated that some of the worldbuilding was not explained in more depth, but for the target audience I believe this will translate into an eagerness to keep reading.
Corona uses creativity with some of the panel layouts, which works very well—beautifully enhancing the mood of the story while remaining readable. Well-read consumers of Feathers will see allusions drawn to A Tale of Two Cities, the Pied Piper, and other folkloric and mythological elements that create a rather predictable story with the promise of a unique spin. The story is pretty standard in terms of scope. Symbolism is pretty clear cut and at times stated outright: the City is order; the Maze is chaos. Each character is designed with a unique appearance; the art is thoughtful and well-conceived, particularly the mythic figures of the White Guide and the Captain.
The general feel of the story reminds me of Teen Titans, which makes sense given that Corona has worked on Teen Titans Go! It also reminds me of Hellboy, though it might just be that Poe’s goggles are drawing a parallel to Hellboy’s filed-down horns. If the Teen Titans sent an invitation to Hellboy to join the team, I wouldn’t be surprised if Poe showed up instead to take his place.
The hardcover edition of Feathers collects the first 6 issues. Extras included with the hardcover include the standard cover gallery for single issues and character design sketches with relatively in-depth stories of character creation, totaling 13 pages (almost half an issue, for context). This is the kind of book that you read and then invite the author to speak about his process.
As for content warnings, there’s not much to be aware of: death is implied, possible demonic rituals are conducted, mild violence is displayed toward children.
This title is a good pick for librarians looking to expand their juvenile graphic novel collection for readers who bridge children’s books and young adult fiction. Due to the allusions it draws on from other fiction, this book might also work as a great hook to start reading longer fantasy works, by being able to introduce readers to elements they will recognize across other stories.
by Jorge Corona
Art by Jen Hickman