By John Smith and Paul Marshall
Review by Luke Williams
Rebellion continues mining its 2000AD archives for its shorter and not so physically collectable strips with “Firekind”, John Smith and Paul Marshall’s mid nineties love letter to hard science fiction.
Arriving on the plant Gennyo Leil to study the indigenous wildlife, scientist Henrick Larsen lives among the native Gennyan people, earning their trust and friendship, and studies the interdependent relationship between the Gennyans, the Kesheen, huge dragon like creatures and the leech like Lanstrisants that are used to control them.
The Lanstrisants are a source of hexacrin, a prized and highly addictive narcotic, becoming the prey of intergalactic poachers and drug dealers.
Following a bloody raid on the Gennyan settlement, Larsen is accused of betraying the Gennyans and is cast out to fend for himself in the wilderness.
Smith can be a “difficult“ writer, occasionally his work descends into psychobabble, riddled with abstract concepts and bizarre metaphor, but when he is on form he is peerless. This is probably the best thing he has done for 2000AD and the Prog’ is poorer for his absence. Smith and Marshall have crafted a complete and believable alien culture and world. The writing and art are evocative and affecting and both creators are undervalued and underappreciated, Marshall’s work here is elegant, finely detailed and beautiful, some of the flying sequences with the Kesheen are breathtaking. There are obvious comparisons with James Cameron’s “Avatar” in theme and content, but “Firekind” is by far the subtler & better work.
The strip has been reprinted twice before; once in the reprint title “2000AD Extreme Editions” and the other in the 2000AD Ultimate Collection alongside the creative team’s other effort, the raucous “Leatherjack”. As much as it is good to see this classic available so that it is available to those not in the know to appreciate, it warrants an oversize hardback.
An overlooked classic. Buy it.