Review – Burning Fields #1 (of 8) (BOOM! Studios)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer(s): Michael Moreci, Tim Daniel
Artist: Colin Lorimer
Release Date: 21st January, 2015
From the moment I heard that the team behind werewolf horror series Curse (one of my Top 5 comics of 2014) was reuniting on a brand new project, I knew I had to get my hands on it as soon as possible. Granted, Riley Rossmo isn’t involved this time around (although he does contribute some typically stunning cover work), but with such an impressively strong premise behind it – as well as an all-star creative team still in place – Burning Fields definitely still has all the hallmarks of being a ‘can’t miss’ prospect.
Mutilated bodies are turning up in the oilfields of Iraq, and dishonourably discharged former army investigator Dana Atkinson finds herself drawn back into her former life as she tries to track down the killer. There’s a distinctly ‘Homeland’ vibe to Burning Fields – which I’m sure you’ll all agree is no bad thing – albeit Homeland with a faintly supernatural aura to it that, while not fully expanded upon just yet, is definitely prevalent throughout the military drama of this first issue.
There’s definitely something of Carrie Mathison in Dana, a deeply flawed individual who offers no apologies for her blunt, matter-of-fact demeanour. She makes for a compelling, multi-layered protagonist, and her history with the corrupt military unit who oversees the oilfield where the latest body was found gives this first issue an additional spark. We are also introduced to Detective Aban Fasad, an Iraqi family man who serves very much as the antithesis to Atkinson with his comparatively quiet demeanour and desire to avoid conflict for the sake of his people.
Writer Moreci has spoken candidly on many occasions about his dim view of the private military contractors who operate in warzones around the world, and these feelings are poured out onto the page in the form of the immoral ‘Verge’ and their disdainful, bullying treatment of the Iraqi people. Their leader, Decker, is the perfect figurehead; calm on the surface, but with a thinly veiled aura of menace and well-documented history of atrocities, and his interjection into a potential powderkeg of a face-off between his unit and the people of Iraq is nothing short of chilling.
Instead of splitting artistic duties like he did on Curse, the visual side of Burning Fields falls squarely on the shoulders of Colin Lorimer, and I can safely say right now without fear of contradiction that his work has never looked better. His dynamic layouts give this first issue a decidedly cinematic feel and his expressive, heavily-shaded figures build the tension perfectly as we find ourselves drawn deeper and deeper into the story. This is an issue filled with strong visual beats, from the brutal torture scene you can see below to the jaw-dropping final page, and Lorimer rises to the occasion with every single one of them, providing one of the best looking comics I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far this year.
Homeland meets Se7en in this gorgeously illustrated, tightly scripted horror drama. Lorimer is on top of his game, Tim Daniel adds his distinctive flavour, and – well – 2015 may very well be poised to become the ‘Year of Moreci’, given his impressive body of work that seems to be growing week by week. Perhaps the most exciting thing to take away from this first issue is that there are seven more still to come, and this stunning opening chapter kicks off a story that I’m going to be watching with tremendous interest as it develops. Simply put, Burning Fields looks all-but-guaranteed to become yet another creator owned success from the fine folks at BOOM! Studios, and is a series I honestly can’t recommend highly enough.
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The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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