Volume 33, Number 02, Winter, 2015

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind

By Zach Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Fábio Moon

Dark Horse, November 2014
Reviewed by David Wayland
July 2015

Joss Whedon’s failed TV series, Firefly, may go down in history as the one of the most talked about shows in TV history that failed. Lasting only a few episodes into its first season before cancelled by Fox, Firefly spawned a cult following by SF fans, a semi-successful movie called Serenity, discussions and forums on TV and comic conventions, and lives on as an irregular series of comics that began with the episodic Those Left Behind, then continued with The Shepard’s Tale and Better Days.

The fourth comic book, Leaves on the Wind, continues the saga of the crew of the Firefly class space transport, Serenity. Readers unfamiliar with the TV show and movie will founder without the proper context in this hardbound graphic novel. A summary of the people and events in the series would require a far longer article, but the story picks up with the people within the stellar government called the Alliance still steaming from the revelations in Serenity of secret government programs that killed millions and created the savage Reavers.

The Alliance is hunting down Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his crew of Serenity, which is hiding in deep space with heavily pregnant second-in-command, Zoe due any day. Former pilot and her husband Wash is dead, killed by the Reavers. Shepard Book also is dead, the victim of a previous effort by the Alliance to locate Malcolm Reynolds. Former crewmate Jayne Cobb has left the ship, but the core of the crew remain staunchly loyal to each other. Mal and former foil Inarra now are openly lovers, River the new pilot, and her brother and Kaylee are making up for lost time.

While the Alliance sends its best agents throughout space to locate Serenity, including the bounty hunter Jubal Early from the TV show’s final episode, the crew risks everything when Zoe suffers a medical emergency. They must come together once more, on not one, but two, daring rescue missions, finding unlikely alliances and unlikelier enemies. Characters like Early seem under-used, new characters appear to foreshadow continuing tales, and a few loose threads are snipped.

More than ten years after the cancellation of the TV show and the appearance of the movie, it’s almost a shame that these few comic books are all fans of the Firefly universe have available. Sure, artwork for the most part succeeds and occasionally surprises. The stories are interesting, and with the exception of Shepard’s Tale, actually extend the Firefly universe beyond the TV show.

Yet on the other hand such tiny scraps leaves one’s head shaking, just as with the cancellation of the show; the potential was there, but its promise denied and trampled in the dust. Can’t stop the signal? Maybe not, but damped and jammed is certainly an option. Until then, as a diehard fan, I’ll line up and fork over my money for these occasional stories, in whatever format available.

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