I’m not sure what it is that drew me to this premiere issue of Burning Fields. It could be that the preview of Lorimer’s interior immediately drew my attention, reminding me of Steve Epting’s work on Brubaker Captain America, but distinguishing itself through its heavy use of shadowing effects, and a desert landscape rarely depicted in comics. Or it could be that the premise sounded like nothing I had read recently. Most likely, it’s that I hadn’t read a premiere issue in quite some time, and figured I owed it to myself to potentially find a new jewel, and resume my hip status at the local comic book store as one of two people who order the cool new comic no one has yet heard about because priorities. I hope it’s a combination of all three. Whatever the reason, I was undeniably into Michael Moreci, Tim Daniel and Colin Lorimer’s detective story set in Iraq from the get-go, and how could you not be into it when a pair of bloody pliers is the first image you get? Soon after that initial violent act though we’re introduced to our lead, Detective Dana Atkinson, in a Chicago bar arguing with a fellow detective about an issue involving herself, the Chicago PD and the Russian mob. Rather than following this narrative thread, the story sends Atkinson to Iraq to investigate a private company’s involvement in a string of gruesome deaths occurring near oil fields.
Oh, and to add to all this, Atkinson almost brought down Surge, the private company, years before, and they have since wanted her gone, giving it a shot the night before her flight only for their operatives to end up with lots of lead in them. Meanwhile in Kirkuk, Iraq, Detective Fasad investigates the gruesome death of a person whose tongue and eyes have been removed.
Clear from this first issue that the creators hope to explore the way in which American-Iraqi relations have changed since news from Iraq quit appearing constantly on American television. Even more specifically, the creators seem intent at looking how private American corporations have profited from the natural resources of Iraq, and the tensions that arise due to their occupation of Iraqi soil. You know the political intrigue is good when the tensest part of a story is not a bloody murder by plier, but a scene where an American hired goon threatens innocents in a market square with little more than words and spit.
By the premiere’s end Atkinson and Fasad have joined up at Surge’s oilfield, and we’re treated to one of the most disturbing body disfigurations I’ve seen in quite some time, an image that builds intrigue in a manner that few cliffhangers ever manage. We don’t know much yet about Atkinson and Fasad, but the team does a good, if not great, job of setting up a mystery that’s worth returning to, if only what to see what other things pliers can do.
Writers: Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel Artist: Colin Lorimer Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/21/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital