Writer: John Smith
Artist: Paul Marshall
Lettering: Steve Potter
Reviewed By Tarn Richardson
In 2009, James Cameron wowed the world with his vision of a fully realised and rendered alien world, discovered and then plundered by wicked human invaders. Avatar was astounding, not just because of the incredible effects, but also because of the astonishing detail and thought which had gone into the creation of the world on which the film was set, Pandora; all of its flora, fauna and poisonous atmosphere.
So, for fans eagerly awaiting Avatar’s sequel, walk right this way! Because sixteen years before Avatar, 2000AD brought the world Firekind, an equally absorbing and vaguely similar story of an atmospherically poisonous alien world, a curious human making contact with the dominant alien species, dragons (!) and wicked human invaders, all courtesy of the brilliant mind of writer John Smith.
Now published as a single digital release, Firekind is a dense, compulsive and detailed hard science fiction comic book, which takes the tropes of Robinson Crusoe, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, The Lost Planet and Dances with Wolves, and creates something wildly inventive and totally engrossing.
Having arrived at the alien jungle planet, Gennyo-Leil, human botanist Larsen slowly but surely gains the trust of the local population. In doing so he begins to understand their complex rituals, their history, their biology and the world which surrounds them, all captured in wonderful detail, both within the script and the sensational art from Paul Marshall.
The depth of thought which has gone into realising this strange, deadly, but wonderful world is breathtaking, making the climactic face-off between Larsen and his alien friends and the marauding human mercenaries even more affecting.
If you want to nitpick, it could be suggested that writer John Smith immerses himself too deeply within the ecosystem of Gennyo-Leil and forgets about storytelling for the first half of the story. I, personally, would contend this, arguing that Smith’s detailed vision makes for an entirely plausible and utterly immersive alien-world experience – and a far more compulsive ending.
Regardless, with the no-holds-barred final showdown versus the marauders and an utterly satisfying climax, Firekind is a lost gem of 2000AD, which is now finally available to be enjoyed by a whole new generation of comic book, Sci-Fi and Avatar fanatics.
Dragons. Flying rocks. Humans invading a supposedly primitive culture of blue-skinned aliens… Discover more than just another blockbuster with John Smith and Paul Marshall’s Firekind – in a digital collection for the first time.
First appearing in 2000 AD Progs 828 to 840, Firekind follows human xeno-botanist Hendrick Larsen who travels to the alien jungle planet Gennyo-Leil whose atmosphere is a toxic hallucinogen. Though he initially gains the inhabitants’ trust, his mission is compromised by the arrival of a merciless gang of mercenary poacher/torturers.
But Gennyo-Leil is not without defences.
You can buy Firekind directly from the 2000 AD Shop
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Tarn Richardson was brought up a fan of fantasy and horror, in a remote house, rumoured to be haunted, near Taunton, Somerset. He is the author of THE DARKEST HAND series, published by Duckworth Overlook in 2015-2017 and republished by RedDoor in 2019. Comprising of THE DAMNED, THE FALLEN, THE RISEN, and free eBook prequel THE HUNTED, the books tell the epic story of Inquisitor Poldek Tacit, battling the forces of evil to the backdrop of World War One. He has also written the novels, RIPPED, and THE VILLAGE IN THE WOODS, to be published in 2020 and 2021. He lives near Salisbury with this wife, the portraiture artist Caroline Richardson, and their two sons.
Official Website www.tarnrichardson.co.uk