March 9, 2014
(Minor spoilers abound)
One of my biggest pet peeves in fandom is the annoying tendency of Whedon fans to insist that, in some form, Firefly/Serenity returns to television.
Yes, I have stated publicly that I think Firefly/ Serenity is a better franchise than Star Trek....but just because something has merit - and/or is short-lived - does not mean it would necessarily work in the same way. But Serenity: Leaves on the Wind from Dark Horse Comics takes some bold steps forward, using 2005's Serenity as a jumping-off point to tell a very distinctive story.
Taking place after the events of the film, Leaves on the Wind focuses on the aftermath, with a growing rebellion against the Alliance. (Thankfully, Zack Whedon's script clever avoids info-dumping for context building). For Mal Reynolds & his crew, there is a palpable sense of loss - not just for fallen comrades, but we learn that one character has seen their status diminish. Several characters lose themselves in their relationships. One character has seemingly moved on. And within all of this, there is the sense that even when things seem to be turning in a positive direction, it does not necessarily guarantee happiness for all involved.
I'm sure that more hardcore Firefly/Serenity fans will be disappointed - after all, this acknowledges that changes did happen, and kind of cements a kind of "canon." However, this is a really enjoyable read, and has a feel as if it were a great unproduced episode. Part of what seals the deal is Georges Jeanty's artwork - there's a nice, worn quality to it that makes the Serenity-'verse feel very lived in, with great work towards our main characters. (If you're expecting character portraits seemingly traced from professional headshots, you'll be disappointed - Jeanty's art is really good). It's Karl Story's inks and Laura Martin's coloring that helps make this feel like classic Serenity/Firefly, as the interplay of light and shadow - as well as the palate - really make this feel like a great, lost episode. (It also ranks second with Boom Studio's Farscape as a great "next step" for a television series that ended before its time)
At a time when most franchises get criticized for not being like fans remember (and yes, I'm talking Star Trek and Doctor Who), Serenity: Leaves on the Wind goes out of its way to deliver a great continuation of a franchise, making strong creative choices, establishing a strong atmosphere, and providing a great narrative continuation without pandering to fannish tastes.
It's also a damn good comic. It's "shiny", to use Serenity-speak.
Buy this. Now.