Only someone who came into existence three seconds ago could deny the twin influences of Halo: Combat Evolved and Ferngully: The Last Rainforest on James Cameron’s xenobestial masterpiece Avatar. But could Cameron’s inspirations lie deeper? It’s a classic tale – boy goes to a lush planet with toxic atmosphere, floating rocks and dragons, going native with the blue skinned natives, resisting marauding colonialists and rallying the nature god of the planet to go forth and destroy. Unfortunately, it was the plot to Firekind, a comic book series published in British sci-fi anthology 2000ad (home to Judge Dredd) in 1993.
Oops! If only ceators John Smith and Paul Marshall had told their tale in glorious stereoscopic 3D (and toned down the intensely hallucinogenic and psychosexual elements of Firekind), they could have had a sure-fire hit! At one point Firekind’s dreamy lead notes “the whole planet’s wired into one massive circuitboard”, a fair description of Avatar’s neural net hoo-ha (although to my recollection nobody tentacle-penetrates anything in Firekind). Cameron previously settled out of court Harlan Ellison over elements of Terminator said to be “inspired” by Ellison’s work, and is buddies with Judge Dredd screenwriter William Wisher Jr, so it’s not even a tiny stretch to suggest he’d be familiar with 2000ad. 2000ad is owned by Rebellion Developments, currently working on a reboot for the Dredd movie franchise and now very much unable to exploit Firekind on the big screen.
Firekind dropped in 1993, with James Cameron completeting his early “scriptment” for Avatar in just two weeks a year later. I invite you to draw your own conclusions.