Written by Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel
Illustrated by Colin Lorimer
Colours by Joana Lafuente
Published by BOOM! Studios
Release Date: 01/21/2015
Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel’s Burning Fields opens brutally, with a blood-filled scene that hints at the villains lurking in the shadows. Colin Lorimer’s art style is well-matched to the story, with the close-ups being particularly effective, and the opening salvo instantly hooks; though unfortunately this is squandered by some mediocre dialogue and a poor first half.
This dialogue clunkiness is felt strongest early on. It’s exposition heavy and the characters talk in ways normal humans wouldn’t. It doesn’t help the characters are defined by broad brush strokes and many of them variants on the same rough, hard, stubborn detective. It’s hard to care for any of them though there is a great moment during a stand-off towards the issue’s end.
However, despite this, at the half way mark the story quickly gets intriguing. The second half features two scenes which both ramp the tension up, the last one being the issue’s stand-out, partially redeeming it for its earlier problems. Then Burning Fields ends on a killer cliffhanger which very much leaves you wanting to find out where the story is heading, even if you have little love for the characters.
Whilst the art style is used well at points, namely at the opening and towards the end, there are too many ill-defined backgrounds and poorly shaded character faces, which works against the story’s intensity. The main problem though comes from characters whose facial shape seems to change significantly between panels. The cast diversity helps to make sure everyone remains recognisable but it’s an issue which threw me off a few times during my first read. There’s even a point where a character, for no apparent reason, gets completely covered in a shadow whilst the person behind her is in full light.
Outside of that characters often have the same stern look and rarely change their facial expression. It’s a problem which persists across the issue with characters only changing expressions in the most dire of circumstances. I get that it’s a dark and moody horror mystery but characters could have a bit more…character.
Saying this, the art style does manage some moments of beauty, the shots over Iraq being particularly effective – one showing it in bright colours, the other in the dead of night. And when it works it really helps sell the story’s moodiness and make even scenes set in broad daylight ominous.
Burning Fields is worth a read, the first issue gives enough to leave you wanting more but its missteps are worrying. The opening salvo and the second half makes up for its shoddy character work and dialogue but it’s an issue that will drag further installments down if it’s not improved.