Opening with a tight shot of Channellocks and a sweaty, dreadful interrogation, “Burning Fields” #1 wastes no time making things uncomfortable for everyone, reader and victim alike, in this story written by Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel. Colin Lorimer provides the visuals with colors from Joana Lafuente and letters from Jim Campbell, adding a splash of red and a whole lot of shadows.
From that disturbing introduction, readers are sent to Chicago to meet Dana Atkinson, the gratingly interesting protagonist of this piece. There is history that Moreci and Daniel tease out, piquing Atkinson’s interest and mirroring the expected reaction from the readership, who should — at this point — be leaning into the conversation, hoping to glean more. The writers are sharp at grabbing attention and holding onto it, dropping a few shocking surprises along the way. None of those are anywhere near as brash as the opening scene of this comic but neither are they dismissible. Through these surprises, Moreci and Daniel define Atkinson and her personality before throwing her into the firestorm erupting in Kirkuk, Iraq.
The visuals are solid throughout the issue, but the most noteworthy imagery comes from letterer Jim Campbell. In each conversation, if one of the characters is speaking something other than English, a lead-in bubble indicates to the reader that the text in the primary word balloon has been translated. I haven’t seen this before, but I demand to see it issued as a standard, especially with the magnificent execution delivered by Campbell.
The rest of the visuals are strong, with Colin Lorimer delivering distinct definitions for Atkinson, her supporting cast and conflicting interests. Lorimer handles the opening Channellocks scene with plenty of detail and even more shadow, giving readers more than enough to be gruesomely deterred yet hideously intrigued. From there, his style lends itself to heavy shadows and stark contrast as he introduces readers to Nelson R. Kendrick, Marine Staff Sergeant; Atkinson’s former commanding officer, the Verge; their leader, Decker; and Detective Aban Fasad, rounding out the cast as the action settles in. Joana Lafuente’s colors are harsh and frequently diffuse backgrounds to gradients or solid colors, helping propel Lorimer’s figures forward. The overall look for “Burning Fields” #1 is dynamic and rough, like a sunny desert in the Middle East on a miserably hot day.
“Burning Fields” #1 launches the series with a mystery and a bang, but Moreci, Daniel and Lorimer are clearly not going to just coast with what they give readers in this issue. The cast is in place, the mystery is bubbling and bodies are piling up. This has the makings of a solid thriller, easy on the exposition and heavy on the uncomfortable moments.