In the Firefly universe tie-ins are few and far between. Where other franchises may have had several novels by now, fans wanting more Firefly must turn to Dark Horse Comics, the publisher of the Firefly “expanded universe.” With the very unlikely hope of more live-action shows, the new stories may very well be considered “canon” one day. We previously reviewed here at borg.com each of the graphic novels featuring the crew of the Firefly class vessel Serenity,Those Left Behind (2006), Better Days (2008), and The Shepherd’s Tale (2010) featuring scripts by Joss Whedon himself, as well as writers Brett Mathews and Zack Whedon and artists Will Conrad and Chris Samnee. All are good stories that should satisfy any fan’s need for more Firefly.
Writer Zack Whedon returned to Serenity this year after four years without a new Firefly tale, with his six-issue mini-series Serenity: Leaves on the Wind. More so than the earlier comic book series, Whedon has captured the relationships of the characters in his story, which takes place after the events in the movie Serenity.
We meet up with the crew in hiding, with Zoe pregnant, Mal and Inara are finally a couple, as are Simon and Kaylee. Jayne Cobb, still wearing his mom’s hat, is off doing his own thing, and River keeps company with Zoe.
Mal & Company are heroes to some, fugitives to others. When a group wanting Mal to lead them solicits the help of Jayne with a bribe of gold, what can he do but help them? From the opposite faction a bounty hunter is recruited, and we’re reintroduced to the vilest of original series villains, Jubal Early. Nathan Fillion’s dialect and inflections for Mal are immediately realized by the reader due to Zack Whedon’s writing, as is the odd sentence construction of Jubal Early. These characters form just the right bookends to convince you you’re back in a world with Firefly still playing weekly episodes.
River Tam’s story gets expanded more than ever before, as we meet the scientist who caused her to be unique in the first place, and we learn she is not the only one of her kind. Zoe and Kaylee each get their chance at playing it tough, Zoe saving the ship as the sacrificial lamb who ends up in prison, and Kaylee unleashing some overdue vengeance.
Unlike the nicely tied up story threads in prior Dark Horse Comics stories, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind set us up for more down the road.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer artist Georges Jeanty provides some easy imagery of the Serenity and its crew. These are not photo-real or even close to it, but his characters are recognizable enough, and readers won’t have a problem seeing through to the actors that once played them.
Will some die-hard fans think these stories are not “enough”? Fans of Firefly will always want more. Yet Leaves on the Wind has a lot of heart, and will fill the void for many.