Crusaders vs Aliens, a “LAKE OF FIRE #1” (Review)
Story by: Nathan Fairbairn with Jason Kapalka
Illustrated by: Matt Smith
The year is 1220AD, during one of the countless crusades of the late Middle Ages. And something, some craft falls from the sky bringing what local villagers describe and call as demons! The set up for this new series from Image had me very much intrigued as I am a fan of medieval times and science fiction. After the initial few attacks that are so quick, they last only a few panels, we don’t see much of these supposed “demons” until the closing pages which really ramps things up leaving the reader wanting to grab the next issue right away.
The story from Fairbairn and Kapalka is written in a way where we are given a few handful of important characters and through their personalities and demeanor see just how different a newly knighted warrior can be from a grizzled wine soaked knight. I really enjoyed the exchanges and dialogue between the knights and crusaders as they are sent to investigate the spread of heresy with the dreaded inquisitors who see heresy in everything, but this is just a fool’s errand where the ulterior motives of the lord haven’t been fully revealed yet. This part of the book felt like one of the collected stories from the Canterbury Tales, a story meant to show the differences about crusaders and the inquisition during the time period. That is until these demons are discovered, where upon death, survival and courage become the motivations for these knights.
I was very impressed with the illustrations of this first book in the series. When I think of the middle ages, I picture long dirt trails that end at muddy encampments at the base of castles under siege. That is exactly what Matt Smith has provided for us. The dialogue does a great job of describing and putting a class to each character we are introduced to, but the illustrations make it immediately clear who is a well-dressed and fed noble and who is a lowly field peasant.
The period setting of this book had me interested because I know medieval tales always have a high level of drama and action associated with it due to the sense of honor of squires and knights or the lack thereof of old crusade veterans who see the world for what it truly is. But throw in a crash landing with these chitinous armored “demons” and the story takes a hard left from what I would expect from a story about red cross bearing crusaders. One issue in and I am already putting in a subscription to make sure I get my hands on the next issue.