Archaia certainly knows how to delight.
Feathers is an unusual heroic origin story, even in the diverse comic book marketplace which has evolved over the last several years. Rather than choose the far-flung future or some seedy metropolitan area beset by crime, creator Jorge Corona has created a world which walks a fine line between magic and realism. The medieval city of Feathers calls to mind the Agraba of Disney’s Alladin, both in its colorful residents and the presence of a stark divide between its haves and have-nots. The conflict between the city’s rulers and the denizens of its desolate quarter, The Maze, is central to the story in the first issue and the development of its lead character.
The hero of Feathers is a boy named Poe. Like his city, he reminds the reader of the classical Alladin, but for one key point: he’s covered in feathers. This trait, which gives him the ability to fly and requires him to wear special goggles to protect his sensitive eyes from the light of day and even night, gives Poe the feeling of a super-hero in the classic sense, but with a less-clearly depicted backstory than you would typically find in a debut issue. The fact that Corona declines to spell out the details of Poe’s background in this first installment suggests that who he is and where he comes from will be key to the long-term development of the series. It is a six-issue limited series, so we can expect those details to be forthcoming in short order.
Raised by an elderly priest, Poe has become a self-appointed protector of the city’s impoverished young, known as “Maze Rats.” He defends them from the city’s guards, each other, and occasionally their own abusive parents. These efforts lead him to an encounter with the adventurous daughter of the city’s rulers, who are displacing residents of the Maze in order to build a private road to support the military. This is a surprisingly advanced plot device for a youth-oriented comic, and it should be exciting to see how Corona develops them as Feathers plays out.
Feathers is a breath of fresh air. It’s fun, action-packed, and subtly smart in it’s subtext. The themes of class warfare, gentrification, and even the dangers of a dominant military machine are all layered wonderfully under a facade of gloriously cartoonish adventure. Want to entertain your kids while teaching them about life? Buy this book ASAP!
“Feathers #1” earns 9/10