For the last few years, really since Saga hit the shelves back in 2012, Image has become the new standard for creator-owned comic books. They have provided not only great opportunities for new creators looking to break into the industry, but also new avenues for veterans such as Nathan Fairbairn and Matt Smith. Lake of Fire seems to be that new avenue. Together, these two explode out of the gates with this 44 page introduction; taking us to the French countryside during the crusades of 1200C.E. Their artwork for this book was absolutely stunning. I honestly could not find a flaw, and I was also pleasantly surprised by Nathan’s writing ability. Though there are a few aspects that I thought needed some editing, all together it was a pleasant read.
Most may be familiar with Nathan’s work as a colorist. For me, he has always been a source of inspiration for my own coloring. So when I saw this issue in my review folder, I was excited to see his name on the credits as the writer/colorist/letterer. I’ll cover his coloring in a bit, for now I just want to talk about his writing.
All together, this was a well written book. The plot, while a tad generic (group of warriors investigate mysterious town plagued with death), was well masked with some unique properties: Crusaders, zealots, and straight-edge vegans. Nathan also sprinkled in some great dialogue; each character had an individual voice and their own motivations, which pushed the book forward more than anything else. It was all quite impressive. However, like I said earlier, there were some aspects that I think Nathan should be aware of for future writing gigs.
First was the dialogue for the first 15 pages. I felt like Nathan didn’t utilize his co-creator, Matt’s, ability to show instead of tell as much in the beginning. There were constant reminders that the main character, Theo, was on a crusade, and the speech bubbles were terse with characters explaining how they feel. Which is kind of pointless, since Matt is stellar at working in emotions to his characters.
My second suggestion has to do with the two alien attack scenes; one on the goat farmer, and the other on the mother in the woods. I would have moved these scenes to when the lady of the keep was explaining the weird disappearances in her town. That way you don’t waste any time re-examining scenes already beautifully drawn up by Matt… Anyways, that is all I could think of. Like I said, Nathan really did do a good job on the scripts.
And without sounding overly repetitive myself, Matt did an amazing job interpreting said scripts. His lines are unbelievably clean. There was no point during my read that I was confused about what was happening. None of Matt’s panels were stagnant, staying in constant motion, and he flowed flawlessly from page to page. My favorite scene of the issue had to be the splash with the alien space ship… Hot damn.
Lastly, and this should come to no surprise, Nathan brought Matt’s line work out even more with his gorgeous colors. Every day I try to work on my own cel shading, with painted backgrounds, but it all looks terrible next to the rendering in this book. Nathan has this uncanny ability to find the shadows perfectly, along with a great eye for accenting colors.
All in all, this was a fun issue to read. Matt and Nathan make a great artist/writer team. Matt’s lines were fantastic, as were Nathan’s colors. And while the writing may not have been perfect, it was far from the worst script to come across my desk. Definitely pick this one up. If the art isn’t selling it, maybe this will. 44-pages for $4 is a killer deal. I give Lake of Fire 4 out of 5 stars.
Story By: Nathan Fairbairn
Art By: Matt Smith, Nathan Fairbairn