The oddest bit about Burning Fields is that it avoids the problem I typically have with comics that take place within a small amount of time. Ordinarily, these comics start to feel unbelievable due to the amount of emotional progress characters make in seemingly just a few days. It’s the emotional equivalent of an action movie training montage that transforms a schlub into a kickass hero in the allotted time between challenge and combat. In the case of Burning Fields, I was slightly concerned with the development of Dana and Aban’s relationship over the course of what appears to be just a few days at most in the comic. However, this issue assured me that amid all the horror and capitalist gore, the comics creators ensure that the stakes for Dana and Aban are apparent and grounded, crafting a complex character dynamic that never feels forced into sentimentality in spite of the revelations this issue. Fighting off Decker’s undead, Dana and Aban manage to make it through the hoard they found themselves in at the end of the last issue after following a Carapace crew out to the desert in the hopes of stopping an impending attack. The two detectives, with the assistance of one of Aban’s former Brotherhood members, determine that Decker hopes to conduct a ritual at the Surge oil field that will resurrect an evil that will bring about the apocalypse. Aban, knowing that his family is now in danger, sends his wife and son to a safe place and Dana promises her that she will ensure Aban’s safe return. While the two wait for their final assault on Decker, Dana ends up confiding in Aban the reason for her departure from Chicago, a reason that took me by surprise while at the Carapace oil field Decker carries out his master’s final preparations.
Writers Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel impressively maintain Decker’s persona as an intimidating force in spite of his turn as a hand of demonic forces. Rather than becoming a mere mindless brute, Decker has added supernatural strength and durability to his already existing capacity for cruelty. He stands out as one of this year’s most interesting villains due to his willingness to even sacrifice those loyal to him in order to achieve his ends. In one instance, he squashes the head of an already dying underling and later tops that with an action that had me turn my head in disgust only to look back and marvel at the gore’s artistry. In addition to his actions, Colin Lorimer illustrates Decker as a truly eerie figure through intricate tattoo designs and glowing light blue eyes, which give greater weight to his callous demands throughout the issue.
Dana’s revelation this issue about her past in Chicago gets handled with deft precision in a flashback colored in only blues and blacks. Colorist Joana Lafuente work in these few page provide the memory with the opposite of nostalgia, evoking a sense of regret as events in the past escalate. What makes this scene work especially well is that it does more than merely inform Aban, and the reader by proxy, about an important moment in Dana’s life, it also further deepens the friendship between the two. Since the incident, Dana has felt as though her actions have been mostly motivated by hate rather than the love she recognizes in Aban, a feeling Aban tells Dana inaccurately represents her. Aban assures Dana that he does not think any differently about her because she acted in keeping with her principles. Moreci and Daniel’s focus on these dialogue-driven scenes keep me engaged with the fate of both characters, and the two writers do a great job of depicting the growth of a Platonic relationship amid a supernatural horror tale.
My only quibble about this issue is that some of the early pages set in the desert were too dark for me to get a sense of what was going on. On one page I was confused about whether a few thick black lines connected to a car were some sort of supernatural force, mangled metal, or simply speed lines. The result is that Aban and Dana’s escape ended up less impressive than it probably ought to have been. Granted, I read this issue on a first generation iPad, so maybe that screwed up my ability to appreciate Lorimer and LaFuente’s work.
Burning Fields comes to an end next month. While I’m excited to see how the team wraps up their work on this comic, I’m definitely bummed to see it go. A comic that I picked up on a whim, Burning Fields has been the surprise standout of the year due to a creative team that’s on top of all their respective games. If you’ve been bemoaning the lack of original comic properties, you shouldn’t wait for the trade on this one. Pick up those back issues today, and get to it post haste.
Burning Fields #7 Writers: Michael Moreci & Tim Daniel Artist: Colin Lorimer Colorist: Joana Lafuente Letterer: Jim Campbell Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 8/19/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital