Lake of Fire #1
Written by Nathan Fairbairn
Drawn by Matt Smith
Published by Image Comics
“Lake of Fire” is Aliens with Crusaders instead off Space Marines, and it’s perfect.  Set in a remote village in the French Pyrenees in the 13th Century, a crashed space ship releases monstrous aliens that the people of the time can only conceptualize as demons.  When a team of errant crusaders come to the village to root out heresy, they come face to face with the terrifying creatures.
What I find most interesting about this concept is how asymmetrical the understanding of the characters is.  Fairbairn and Smith do an excellent job making clear the nature of the ‘demonic’ threat in the opening sequence, with a huge panel of the massive ship passing overhead before crashing in the mountains.  Conflict between highly advanced and pre-enlightenment societies isn’t a new concept.  ‘Star Trek’ made a lot of hay out of it over the years.  But this is an intriguing perspective.  The reader perspective follows the superstitious humans rather than the Xenomorph-like aliens, which really increases the tension.  They have absolutely no idea what they’re up against.
Fairbairn’s story is well researched and detailed without getting too bogged down in historical minutia.  The action is well paced and the characters are well developed.  The interplay between the greenhorn knight and his friend and the more seasoned knights and noblemen was interesting, and it kept the story moving.
Smith’s art is less realistic than I would have expected, but he has a great mastery of expressions.  The page layouts are a bit cramped, with lots of small panels.  This also helps keep the story compressed and tense.  Colors by Fairbairn are vibrant and atmospheric.
Lake of Fire is a heck of a good read to tide you over if you’re still waiting for the next George R. R. Martin book.  You can find it on Comixology, or on the shelves of your local comics shop.

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