Review: Burning Fields #8

For eight months we’ve had the dopeness that is Burning Fields, and that’s gonna have to be enough given that this issue wraps up the story comic creators Michael Moreci, Tim Daniel, Colin Lorimer, Joana Lafuente, and Jim Campbell set out to make. Consistently, Burning Fields has headed in surprising direction that prevented it from ever fitting neatly into a genre. Sometimes a horror comic, at other times a police procedural, and quite often a political drama, Burning Fields holds at its greatest triumph the development of the relationship of its two leads, Detective Aban and Dana. By keeping these two at the fore, the comic’s team created a story that remains grounded despite its explicit move into the supernatural, or possibly monster-movie territory. With an end that delivers in both spectacle and emotional heft, Burning Fields’ only downside is that this exact team of creators won’t immediately all be working together again. Very quickly into this issue, huge ploty things start happening. People are killed with a sickle, there’s an appearance by at least one monster, and some intestines are spilled. I’ll avoid saying anything more about what happens this issue, but definitely feel satisfied by the conclusion shown here, and how it doesn’t invest a chunk of the issue exploring the ramifications of the comic’s climax.

Burning-Fields-#8In a review for one of this series’ earliest issues, I was really impressed by how formidable of an antagonist the comic team had been able to make Decker prior to his transformation into an emissary for a possible god. Once he had undergone his transformation though, I stopped finding him as interesting of a character since now his decisions seemed determined by a supernatural force, zapping some of the character’s own agency. Granted though, pre-transformation Decker had also been working for a monstrous force, albeit in a more figurative sense. While the parallels between the literal monster and the corporation invested in maintaining their oil fields in the Middle East works, it’s the only aspect of the book that felt a little forced and I far more enjoyed it when the corporation and the supernatural agent were two distinct groups. This issue somewhat makes up for the fusion of those two groups with a scene that shows us that Decker remains someone unwilling to give in to the games of others, even when that group consists of a pissed off monster/god determined to end all life. It’s one of the best moments of the issue, especially due to Colin Lorimer’s depiction of Decker as he monologues about the worth of power. The scene wraps up in just two pages, but gives us a final moment to remember just how capable Decker is on his own, and what he’s willing to sacrifice in order to attain power. The scenes also does a nice job of building up the tension for the final confrontation between Decker and the detectives.

With all that goes in during this issue, I was relieved that the comic team gave us a final few conversations between Aban and Dana. It’s great that their relationship never featured a romantic aspect, and I liked how even though they’ve been partners since the comic’s start that Dana has edged her way into the most prominent role in this comic. Dana works wonderfully as a lead with writers Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel giving her a complex personality that’s simultaneously confident, capable, and flawed. Undergoing a believable and large emotional change over this comic’s run, Dana remained a compelling character especially at times when her behavior recklessly endangered herself or others. She felt believable whether she was shooting folks at point blank or sharing a moment with Aban, At a time when the comics industry seems most ready to address the idea of diverse characters, Dana and Aban’s pairing functions as a great example of two underrepresented groups that maintain empathetic in spite of any cultural or experiential differences.

Colin Lorimer, Joana Lafuente, and Jim Campbell provide Burning Fields a look that’s enjoyable to look at even at times when a panel consists of nothing more than a silhouette. Throughout the series, I’ve really dug the way Campbell letters characters’ Arabic dialogue around its English translation text bubble. It’s an effect that ensured readers wouldn’t forget where the characters are, or the cultural context in which they’re situated. Lafuente’s colors allow readers to easily distinguish changes in scene, and appropriately configure the drama of a scene. She employs a shade of red in this issue for the background sky that appropriately provides the climax with an apocalyptic haze. In addition to all his work with this comic, I was way impressed by the monster/god design he cooks up this issue. With a look that’s original and terrifying to see, Lorimer’s god has a palpable air of menace and disgust that I just love. No idea whether his design was explicitly borrowed from some other source, but either way it’s cool just how satisfying the monster/god’s appearance is.

That this comic is over is definitely a bummer. Its leads made the entire comic something I looked forward to each month, but more than that the comic creators were definitely all on the top of their game with this one. In a field that more often than not lauds the auteur comic creator (one that writes, illustrates, colors and letters), it’s great to be able to recommend a work that instead shows how the collaborative process can lead to something the individuals couldn’t pull off on their own. Maybe Burning Fields would have still been a good comic had it subbed out one of its team for someone else, but for once that’s definitely not a alternate universe I’d like to visit.

Score: 4/5

Burning Fields #8 Writers: Michael Moreci & Tim Daniel Artist: Colin Lorimer Colorist: Joana Lafuente Letterer: Jim Campbell Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 0/23/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital