Lake of Fire #1 (Image Comics)
Once again, Image Comics has been putting out a seemingly endless stream of new first issues. Thanks to their new Image Plus magazine, there’s less of a risk involved in plunking down your hard earned cash if you’re curious about checking a new series out. While I’m always hesitant to throw yet another new comic onto my already bursting pull list, when I heard the pitch for Nathan Fairbairn and Matt Smith’s Lake of Fire, I knew I was in: Crusade era knights vs. Aliens! How could I say no?
Like many Image first issues, Lake of Fire is a lot of set up. After some intriguing opening pages that set up the aliens’ arrival in the French countryside, we’re introduced to Theobald of Champange and his companion Hugh. Recently knighted, Theobald is looking to assist Lord Montfort in his efforts to stomp out “heresy” in the country. Montfort, however, doesn’t want any assistance, so he has his best knight lead Theobald on a mission to a town called Montaillou, a voyage that will take the knights long enough that by the time they return, they’ll be done with their terms of service to Montfort. It’s not until later in the issue when the knights arrive in Montaillou that they finally start to learn of the “demons” attacking the small village, and get their first encounter with the aliens.
There’s a lot of ground to cover in Lake of Fire #1, but it’s all pretty necessary. At times Nathan Fairbairn’s script throws a little too much information into the issue, but it never becomes a boring info dump. All of Fairbairn’s characters, while common tropes of these kinds of adventure stories, are really interesting and written extremely well, and Fairbairn’s premise is one of those “why didn’t I think of that” premises that comes along every once in a while.
Artist Matt Smith’s cartoony style works really well for this series, even if some panels look a little rushed. His backgrounds of the French countryside are gorgeous, and the bug-like aliens that arrive have a great design as well. Speaking of characters, Smith does a great job of giving each character their own body language and facial expressions. You could probably read this comic without any words and still be able to figure out who’s who.
Lake of Fire’s first issue is very much a set-up issue, but the set-up looks to be leading somewhere very, very cool. Nathan Fairbairn and Matt Smith have crafted a really cool premise that pays homage to classic adventure stories, and has the potential to be something really unique too. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the latest Image book to get a TV or movie deal.