I’m not sure what’s real anymore in Burning Fields. Each month I look forward to seeing where the creative team takes this story next, and it never fails to surprise. After last issue’s cave-in, I thought the second half of this mini-series might take a breather to recover, but instead things head forward at top speed as Dana and Aban continue in their attempt to capture Renfro. The cave-in from the end of last issue has thinned out the Carapace work force, and Dana’s former colleague ranks among the dead. His replacement, Carey Daws, fires Dana from the investigation and has their presence marked off the record. Undeterred, Dana and Aban meet up with Ghada and the Brotherhood to determine their next step, figuring out that one of the only remaining access tunnels to Renfro’s hideout exists in Al-Jalal’s territory, a man who Dana describes as ‘a shadow of a ghost.’ However, once they acquire leverage to win over Al-Jalal, they make it over to his territory and wait for Renfro to make an appearance, leading to a brutal confrontation at the issue’s climax, the situation threatening blow up in the cliffhanger when Daws sends a combat force to take out a group that’s taken credit for the tunnel attack that took out Carapace’s soldiers.
One thing that I love about Michael Moreci & Tim Daniel’s writing on Burning Fields is that it never feels as though I’m being bogged down with information despite the abundance of new intel that’s shared among the characters. Thanks to strong character work, even bits of expository information are delivered in the voice of the character in dialogue, Aban’s meditative demeanor coming out in the way he explains a map and Dana’s frustration exudes when explaining to Daws the situation Carapace has placed themselves in. As a result, what boils down to a police procedural never feels like it slows to a crawl in order to explain the facts of the case to the reader. Rather, we’re privy to conversations where the characters are working these things out for themselves, and we’re trusted to understand it all.
I’ve remarked on the great color work of this series before, but here I realized how vital colorist Joana Lafuente’s colors are to the tension and plot of the story. Taking place in mostly exteriors, the issue relies of Lafuente to provide the reader a sense of the time passing during the investigation. The issue starts in a red dusk at Carapace before spending the bulk of the issue at night where Dana and Aban go through quite a bit. When the issue wraps up in the dawn, it’s apparent just how exhausted the two might be as a result of their continuous work. I’m hoping their physical exhaustion comes into play over the next few issues as Dana’s decision to move forward with no caution potentially catches up to them.
Lastly, this issue really delivered on some great action scenes, especially in the confrontation between a furious Aban and Renfro. Artist Colin Lorimer focuses on the typically peaceful Aban’s brutal efficiency through the use of small panels. After showing Aban tackling Renfro, and the latter’s collision with a car window, Lorimer uses several small panels in one row that each zoom tightly in on the point-of-contact for each hit Aban delivers. This gives both the impression of quick successive strikes, and also skillful fighting that prove a great way to introduce to the reader a new aspect of Aban. In the following panel, we then get to see the beaten Renfro in a larger panel as Aban chokes him to unconsciousness.
My only qualm with this issue was the first two pages when Dana and Aban meet up with Ghada and the Brotherhood. I didn’t have much of a sense of where they were at the time or how much time had lapsed since their departure from the Carapace facility. While this is a minor issue, it does impact the sense of urgency within the issue since it’s not clear whether only a few hours or an entire day had passed since the previous scene. It’s definitely not something that took away from my enjoyment of this issue though, and I’m looking forward to seeing just what the hell is up with the blue eyes of Renfro and the others, and whether there actually is something supernatural lurking within the tunnels.
Burning Fields #5 Writers: Michael Moreci & Tim Daniel Artist: Colin Lorimer Colorist: Joana Lafuente Letterer: Jim Campbell Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 6/17/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital