Zeb Larson reviews Burning Fields #5…
When their protection goes up in flames, Dana and Aban find themselves completely on their own in search of the serial killer. They’re forced to go straight for Renfro, which means infiltrating an area controlled by terror groups and arms dealers. Little do they know, Asag’s newest ally is someone very familiar.
This is an interesting issue in that the horror parts of the book take a backseat to the political maneuverings of the people. We get a few good shots of possessed men being scary as all, but the interactions between the human characters really drive this issue. What we have as a result is a dense, intelligent book that stands out from the other horror books being written right now. There’s a lot to keep track of in this issue, and that’s in addition to an interesting twist in Dana’s characterization.
Dana and Aban discover that Sergeant Kendrick was killed in the attack last issue. Their investigation is set further back by the arrival of a new Carapace executive on sight who only wants to kick Dana and Aban to the curb. With her access to the investigation cut off, Dana contacts a terrorist acquaintance from her past to try and get close to Renfro. Yet even if she manages to trap him, she must now deal with the fact that without Kendrick, she has nobody in a high place who can support her, and Carapace and the others are ready to try and eliminate the murderer on their own.
First of all, I have to point to one line of dialogue which took me by surprise. Was that a Jurassic Park reference in this issue? “Renfro is a predator. He doesn’t want to be fed, he wants to hunt” sounds an awful lot like Grant describing a T-Rex. It certainly illustrates how dangerous Asag and his followers are. Then again, maybe Moreci and Daniel were just really looking forward to Jurassic World and wanted to sneak in a good quote.
The possible reference should not obscure the fact that this was a dense issue. The layered interactions between characters really works, because most of what Dana and Aban do is investigate, and it gives the book the heft of a procedural. Yet there’s also a lot of plot going on here. We’ve got a new Carapace representative, Dana’s connection to Haydar Al-Jalal, Ghadan’s assistance, the move against Renfro, and an attack on the Kurds that sounds as though it will set off the powder keg waiting to blow. Politics really dominates this issue: Iraqis, Multinationals, independent warlords, and of course the demon god just waiting to do God knows what to everybody. Everybody wants something different, but none of them can get away from the other.
Dana’s characterization made for some of my favorite parts of this issue. We’ve consistently been told that Dana is tough, no-nonesense and cynical, but that depiction is very common in war comics, horror comics and crime comics. The façade of toughness frequently passes for toughness. Here we actually get to see what that looks like, when Dana sells Bahir to Haydar for an hour’s worth of his time. Bahir is going to his almost certain death, one that will be painful. Dana doesn’t even hesitate: she needs this to complete the mission, and Bahir is a bargaining chip. Yet that really gives you a sense of just how hard she is. By contrast, Aban wants to get out of this alive, implicitly acknowledging that Dana is fighting like she has a death wish.
The slow-burn is really paying off now. Whatever happens next issue is going to be bad, and now that Asag has had an issue to lie relatively low, the chaos that comes will be the next opportunity for the creature to strike. Bad news for the characters, but good news for us.