(Michael Moreci/ Tim Daniel/ Colin Lorimer/ Joana LaFuente; BOOM Studios)
(Above: Variant Cover by Riley Rossmo)
I wrote about Burning Fields #1 last month, boasting the layout decisions of Colin Lorimer, the mood setting colors of Joana LaFuente and the joint writing efforts of Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel’s ability to set and pace a story effortlessly. The team is back this month with the next installment and we’re thrust into the midst of a multi-layered conspiracy.
Burning Fields #2 begins with narration by an American soldier reminding Iraqi children of the importance of U.S occupation in their country. He states that without us, their country would return to violence and chaos like it was before. The creative team does something extremely important with their juxtaposition in this first scene to create a perfectly ironic beginning to this issue. It sends a message, loud and clear.
The narration of the American soldier is laid over the image of a man, presumably our serial killer, kneeling before a broken down jeep. Body parts are lined across the hood of the jeep. Lorimer’s object placement in this panel is purposeful. The killer is centered in front of the jeep while gas masks, barbed wire and debris surround them like a shrine. LaFuente includes several bright circles that appear as spotlights to highlight the ritualistic experience. The next couple of panels show the killer place the body parts into a bag, dripping with blood. The juxtaposition is important because it negates everything the solider is saying. Despite our presence, violence is still happening and at a ritualistic, premeditated level.
Moreci and Daniel continue to excel in the pacing department, because a lot is revealed in this issue, but they maintain the suspense of the investigation. They do so by digging deeper into the story and untying more threads for readers to follow.
Aban Fasad joins Atkinson and Kendrick in their investigation of the gruesome oilfield murders. He earns his keep by supplying useful information to aid the investigation, yet retains much of it to remain on the case. It’s subtle, but great character development on Moreci and Daniel’s part that continues to reveal Fasad’s chip on his shoulder toward Americans. Much of his dialogue throughout the issue has an air of bitterness underneath this tongue and while we may not know why, we’re clued into an event in 2010 during Dana’s time in Kirkuk. The two spend a portion of the issue questioning oilfield workers and learn that many of them have suffered headaches and hallucinations, a tidbit that may or may not play into the investigation.
Beyond the pairing up of Dana and Aban, there’s a scene between two unnamed men – a solider and a Kurd that instills impending hostility and efforts to keep the peace for mutual benefit. Another thread opened by Moreci and Daniel is a brief scene of a child being dragged into a heaping pile of wreckage, presumably the location of the introductory scene. This issue is dark, both in content and execution. The coloring reflects the nature of the story, mystery shrouded in darkness. Most of the scenes are very dark and utilize blacks, blues and darker tones. The characters in the story are typically heavily shadowed, letting us know that even in the light, there is still darkness lurking behind these characters.
Lorimer and LaFuente are a great artistic pair. There’s an odd blend of softness and stiffness behind the art in Burning Fields. Much of the details in the characters’ faces, bodies and hands are very soft and light. The details are in the value changes and don’t contain many hard edges.
However, in the final scene we’re taken to a building that looks like a church or a mosque, exploring an “unconventional” lead of Fasad’s. Inside, the lighting goes to mostly black and blue, the only light coming from the detectives’ flashlights. This scene uses numerous hard lines and edges that contrast much of the art until now. Paired with the moody lighting by LaFuente’s colors, it gives the art a rigid feeling of uneasiness and suspense. Here Atkinson and Fasad find what they’re looking for – even if they don’t like what they find. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but Moreci and Daniel conclude Burning Fields #2 with another big reveal to keep readers coming back.
Second issues are always tough. This issue was able maintain the pace and suspense of the debut issue, while giving readers something to chew on without choking them with too much. Moreci and Daniel continue to display their ability to write a careful script while Lorimer and LaFuente continue to show it to us effectively and skillfully.