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Tag Archive: Firefly


Review by C.J. Bunce

Despite its single season, despite the series going off the air 15 years ago this month, Firefly fans eagerly await the latest access to Malcolm Reynolds and his crew, and know that something new is always around the corner.  That’s because Joss Whedon and the licensees of Firefly continue to oblige, producing some of the best offerings of any fandom.  Whether it’s the Loot Crate Cargo Crate, or Firefly games, or the incredible variety of in-universe and making-of books available, Firefly is at the top of its game for providing new ways to keep the fans excited for their show.  That quality content continues this month with the release of The Serenity Handbook: The Official Crew Member’s Guide to the Firefly-Class Series 3 Ship, by Marc Sumerak.  A bit like The Book of Alien: Augmented Reality Survival Manual and the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Tech Manual in its hardcover presentation, design, and style, The Serenity Handbook is a new close-up look at the inner workings of Serenity for your favorite Browncoat.  It’s also the first in-universe book for Firefly and Serenity (keep reading borg.com later this month for a first look at the next in-universe book for the series and film).

This is an in-universe guide to the famous Firefly class ship, complete with graphics, schematics, and ship features, with margin notes from the Serenity crew, pointing to the ship’s quirks and best features, and contrasting the ship with other vessels.  Its best feature?  The volume of photographs, which seem like production continuity photographs of the set and props from the series re-purposed to become part of the reality of the show’s story thanks to inclusion in this Handbook.  So readers will find views they haven’t seen before of the ship’s bridge section, control panels and switches, the armory, the cargo hold, the galley and common areas, the infirmary and crew quarters, plus views of those vents, pipes, tubing, and display screens that make the ship feel so real.  The photographs look very much like the Polaroids that crew members of any production take on-set, as opposed to the usual screenshot you might find in a book like this (a feature I also loved in Princess Bride: A Celebration).  Set decorators use these images behind the scenes to ensure everything stays in the same place from take to take.  Since they were practical shots, they weren’t intended to be reproduced or seen by anyone else, so they are perfect for a book like this.

Sumerak’s writing in The Serenity Handbook takes this all a step further, creating a conversation between each crew member and the reader, much like a tour, as when Shepherd Book was first brought onto the ship.  All the commentary is true to the personalities on the ship, especially for ship mechanic Kaylee, who you would expect to have a key role in this book.  Many new or reproduced in-universe elements are peppered throughout, like brochures advertising the Series 3 class ships, a ship bill of sale for Serenity, maps, and a mock-up of Wash’s pilot’s license and flight school scorecard.  The ship diagrams provide the sort of detail that Star Trek fans have enjoyed over the years from concept artist Rick Sternbach–each similarly poster worthy.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Maybe you don’t need the Old West to have a great Western after all.  Bringing back the feel of the first third of the original Star Wars: A New Hope with a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid level of fun and humor, Solo: A Star Wars Story is finally in theaters with something for every Star Wars fan.  The saloons may be different and so are the sidearms, but this is the story of a young gunfighter, complete with the related outlaws and mercenaries, partners and betrayals, card playing, and gunfights.  With the sweeping adventure of The Empire Strikes Back, the perfectly rebuilt and repackaged nostalgia of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and a jumping off point for a galaxy of possibilities for beloved characters we only thought we knew, director Ron Howard delivers.  Not weighted down by the gloom and doom of the Dark Side in Rogue One or the rest of the Star Wars films, this Star Wars story creates new and original locations and situations for a few familiar characters plus many new ones and still ties into the overall episodic stories, taking place after Revenge of the Sith, but before Star Wars Rebels and Rogue One.  Yet we meet many new characters and questions are raised in the film that beg for one or more sequels to this branch off the main Star Wars saga–we can now have many new tie-in novels, comics, TV series, and maybe even movies to keep it all going.  If you didn’t think The Last Jedi captured the nostalgia or fun of earlier Star Wars films, then Solo is for you–not since The Empire Strikes Back has an entry in the saga been such a rollercoaster ride.

Surprises?  In a film that could have just filled in the blanks, the surprises were dished out from beginning to end, including some big ones we won’t mention here.  The overall tone is something out of Amazing High Adventure, and it makes perfect sense: It’s Silverado in space.  Screenplay writer Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote the screenplay with son Jonathan Kasdan), known for writing Westerns Silverado and Wyatt Earp, prior Star Wars entries The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens, and that greatest of adventure movies Raiders of the Lost Ark, was the perfect match to veteran director and movie icon Ron Howard.  The Western inspiration is supported visually in the Frederic Remington-inspired colors and landscapes.  You can spot the World War II movie references along the way, too, that Kasdan and Howard no doubt enjoyed as moviegoers over the years, like Von Ryan’s Express.  The relationships between characters evoke gangster movies and even pirate tales like Treasure Island.  Science fiction fans will see parallels to Han’s band of mercenaries in both the crew of the Ghost in Star Wars Rebels and Joss Whedon’s Serenity crew in the Firefly television series.

The Kasdans smartly injected those scenes every fan has thought about, pulled from passing references throughout the original trilogy to become fully realized plot threads, and then they folded in so much more.  Without the religion and mysticism of the Force, Solo: A Star Wars Story breaks the precedents of the saga as space fantasy to become arguably the first end-to-end science fiction movie of the franchise.  And it’s not just a fun movie.  Viewers will get plenty to think about.  Characters here are sometimes swapped into positions taken by other characters (and beasts) in prior movies in a way that will make moviegoers want to take another look at the prior films again.

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Never been to a comic book or pop culture convention?  Always wanted to go to San Diego Comic-Con but you don’t have the vacation time available or the funds?  Planet Comicon is next weekend in Kansas City and it’s the sixth year of the show at downtown Kansas City’s giant convention center at Bartle Hall.  Planet Comicon is a great way to get a complete three-day convention experience centrally located in the Midwest, ideal for a last-minute road trip for the family or a car full of friends.  Kansas City is less than 8 hours by car from Dallas, less than 7 hours from Minneapolis, a little more than 7 hours from Indianapolis, and a little more than 8 hours from Denver.  And you don’t need to buy advance tickets–you can purchase them at the door.

So why make the trip?  How about meeting Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Firefly star Alan Tudyk?   Also from Firefly, as well as Doctor Who, Supernatural, Chuck, Leverage, Star Trek Voyager (and one of borg.com‘s actors we can’t get enough of), Mark Sheppard?  Want to get a photo with Michael Rooker (“I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!” Yondu) and Pom Klementieff (Mantis), stars of last year’s biggest superhero hit Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2?  Are modern classics your thing?  How about seeing the star of fan-favorite movies like Say Anything, High Fidelity, and Eight Men Out?  Yep, John Cusack is returning to the Midwest for this year’s show (you can even bring your prized Rooker and Cusack Eight Men Out baseball cards for autographs).

Do you want to compare notes on The Walking Dead with stars Khary Payton, Rooker, and  Sonequa Martin-Green (also star of Star Trek Discovery)?  Maybe you’re a Game of Thrones fan.  You can meet both Jerome Flynn and Jason Momoa (also Aquaman in the DC Universe movies).  And speaking of fantasy, Planet Comicon is featuring a rare appearance by Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis, who played the beloved hero Neville Longbottom.  Want to meet the actor who has played the toughest badass characters you’ve ever seen?  Sling TV barista and Machete himself, Danny Trejo will be in the house.

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Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy Summers is an ageless heroine.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one series you can revisit, find something new, and marvel at the dialogue of Joss Whedon’s greatest character, greatest writing, and greatest production, over and over.  And yet somehow Buffy, the series, turned 20 this year.  Twentieth Century Fox is rewarding fans of the series by releasing a new boxed set of all seven seasons of the series next month.  The 39-disc DVD set contains all 144 episodes of one of the smartest, funniest, and action-filled series, featuring arguably the greatest heroine of all.  Unfortunately, no Blu-ray release appears to be in the works yet.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Series 20th Anniversary Edition DVD Boxed Set will include some extra features, which might entice fans who have purchased previous editions of the series.  It includes a Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book from Dark Horse Comics featuring an exclusive variant cover and “coloring sheet.”  Seasons 1-7 also include special features material from prior releases.

But Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not the only series from Joss Whedon celebrating an anniversary this year and getting a new boxed set.  Firefly turned 15 this year, and Twentieth Century Fox is issuing a Blu-ray anniversary edition for Browncoats everywhere.  This boxed set will also be released next month and it features some new inserts, including a Firefly poster and collectible character cards.

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Joey Spiotto is an artist whose works are immediately recognizable.  He has his own whimsical take on characters fans know and love–unique, but much like comic book cover artist Skottie Young he makes popular characters his own.  Spiotto is well known for his parody covers for Little Golden Books–his Storytime series takes sci-fi, fantasy, and other pop culture favorites and uses a Muppet Babies-type change-up to show us characters as wee ones on the cover of their own little kids’ book.  He’s taken on every franchise from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Terminator 2, Robocop, and Lost, to the Hamilton musical, from Mad Max: Fury Road, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, They Live, and Tron, to Donnie Darko.  How often do you see one series of anything include homages to both Mr. Rogers and Donnie Darko?  Individual prints of his Storytime series can be bought here and many have been compiled in his book available here at the artist’s Etsy store.

Now in stores is Spiotto’s latest book, Firefly–Back From the Black, a look at the characters of the fan favorite sci-fi series in the artist’s style and brand of humor.  A latecomer to the Firefly series, Spiotto counts himself a fan, and he shows it through his many obscure references in page after page of single panel drawings.  This is one where those who aren’t Firefly fans probably won’t understand what’s going on, but for those who are fans all the key characters are covered–spoofed, parodied, and maybe poked fun at more than a little bit.  You’ll find plenty of images of Jayne sporting his cunning hat, including one of his Mom sewing his hat for him–an off-screen scene every Firefly fan has imagined.  Fans of Spiotto’s first movie tie-in, 2015’s lovable look at Ridley Scott’s Aliens, Alien Next Door, will also like what the artist does here with the Firefly crew.  The kind of book you’d see getting as a Christmas stocking stuffer for those dreaming of a return of Firefly, or a nice add-in to a future Firefly Cargo Crate, Firefly–Back From the Black is now available here from Amazon.

   

Spiotto fans also have just under a day left to take advantage of the artist’s Kickstarter campaign to launch a compilation book of his High Fidelity series of prints–it’s fully funded, but some great deals and incentives are still available.  In this series he takes a similar twist on popular films and series as with his Storytime prints, but with High Fidelity the format is vintage 33 1/3 vinyl LP record album covers, and the characters become bands.

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Visitors to San Diego Comic-Con this weekend have a chance to view screen-used costumes from three popular sci-fi franchises.  Disney, CBS, and the Prop Store have each created displays to showcase movie costumes for fans.  Three Star Wars characters from Star Wars: The Last Jedi are represented in the Star Wars pavilion at booth #2913 inside the convention hall.  The Prop Store is featuring one Serenity costume set to sell at auction at a later date, on display at booth #3845.  And CBS gives those not attending SDCC 2017 an opportunity to check out a dozen new Star Trek: Discovery costumes at the Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts Gallery in San Diego.

Inside the convention center, the Star Wars display features Resistance pilot uniforms for Poe Dameron, Nien Nunb, and Dameron’s wingman, Abednedo alien C’ai Threnalli, as well as one of the film’s BB-8 droids.  At the Prop Store display, several costumes from various movies and TV series are on display, including one of the Malcolm Reynolds costumes used in the Firefly TV series sequel Serenity, worn by Nathan Fillion.

 

At the Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts Gallery, Star Trek fans can see a display of new Starfleet, Klingon, and Vulcan costumes and props from Star Trek: Discovery, and get a photo sitting in one of three originals of the captain’s chair used in the new series.  Costumes include a new Starfleet EVA spacesuit and one of James Frain’s costumes worn as Sarek in the series.  New Starfleet props of the tricorder, phaser, and rifle echo original series props, where Klingon bladed and disruptor props are entirely new, reflecting a more ornate design scheme than fans have seen before.  Intimidation is clearly key to the new Klingons, who still sport their cloven-toed boots and familar tradition–small etched lettering on the knife blade on one d’k tagh blade states in Klingonese, “There is honor in death.”

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Check out a few photos:

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While we’re sitting around waiting for the latest Firefly Cargo Crate, we noticed a new set of high-end but reasonably priced playing cards was sporting some of the best artwork we’ve seen on a classic card deck.  It turns out the official Firefly licensed collectible company Quantum Mechanix (QmX) has teamed up with graphic artist Ben Mund to create an exceptional new release.

Mund is known for his work on Serenity blueprints and the Serenity Atlas of the ‘Verse.  With his new deck of playing cards he has created imagery inspired from the series and film, including Jayne’s rifle Vera on the Jack of Clubs, the Serenity on the Ace of Spades, and Inara adorning the Queen of Diamonds.

Note that this isn’t the game of Tall Card, the card game with round cards played in the episode “Shindig.”  But if that’s what you’re after you can pick that up here at Amazon.  This is a traditional 54-card poker deck, good for “Earth-That-Was” card games.  These are Bicycle’s quality playing cards, the real deal from the United States Playing Card Company.  And you’ll want to keep an eye out for Easter eggs from the series throughout the deck courtesy of Ben Mund.

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If you have someone who is awesome enough to make Adam Baldwin’s famous, cunning, Jayne Cobb knitted hat from Firefly (as we did back in 2013 here at borg.com) then you may have a chance to go back to that special person another time to get your Doctor Who fix and add some convention-appropriate garb to your stash for future events.  With the Jayne hat, it’s double the fun to have your mother (or other relative or friend) hand-knit the hat, since it was Jayne’s mother who created the hat for him as part of the TV episode.

This time, it’s the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, and his famous knitted scarf, worn by every fourth fan at every respectable Comic Con you’ve ever attended.  And Petronella Osgood in “The Day of the Doctor.”

Baker, who appeared on BBC’s 50+ year, sci-fi classic Doctor Who from 1974 to 1981 as the Fourth Doctor, is currently crossing franchise streams, voicing the large, wise creature called the Bendu on the DisneyXD animated series Star Wars Rebels.

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Wil Wheaton at a Con in his own copy of the Fourth Doctor’s scarf.

But Baker has become synonymous with that scarf.  Unlike the pattern that has become the accepted duplicate of Jayne’s hat throughout the land of knitters (the original wasn’t production-made so no original instructions exist although an accepted version is easily available on the Web), the BBC actually handed out the pattern instructions to knit your own Tom Baker scarf back in the 1980s.  Thanks to an article from Tor and two bloggers posting their memories over the past several years, below you can download the instructions that the BBC gave out to what must have been a routine inquiry from fans over the years.

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Firefly Dictionary

One of the most popular subjects for readers here at borg.com, Firefly is a franchise we always watch out for.  We try to jump on anything new that springs from Joss Whedon’s unique world.  One of the ironies of the short-lived series is that the producers, studios, and creators really don’t license many books or collectables compared to the volume released from the big science fiction franchises.  Star Wars and Star Trek continue to flood the market with new content and products.  What that usually means is as a consumer you must pick through a lot to find something truly new and interesting.  Not so with Firefly.  Each of the books we’ve reviewed have all been something any Firefly fan should go for.

Same goes for the newest book published this month for Firefly fans: Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the ‘Verse.  Without a doubt the earlier published deluxe hardcover Firefly: A Celebration, Anniversary Edition is a Firefly fan’s best friend.  A Celebration had it all, from scripts to interviews and photos of every detail of the show including blueprints of ships, concept art, props, and costumes.  Check out our review here published previously at borg.com.  But Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the ‘Verse makes a worthy companion to that book, honing in on the use of language in the ‘Verse and not in a merely trifling way.

Browncoat S dictionary

This book is intelligently written for both a cosplayer wanting to emulate characters and language from the show, to those interested in understanding how the series writers, including Whedon himself, used word choices to build backstories for characters, to show their wealth, their roots, and how the characters reveal their own needs, both subtlely and overtly, to others.  How do you create a language for a society 500 years in our future that is true to the past and appropriately modern?

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Sci-Fi Block Doctor Who

Catching up with the fun, genre-tailored grab bags like Loot Crate and Comic Con Box, two new box services beginning soon will mean you will have four major monthly genre-themed services to choose from.  We reviewed past Loot Crate and Wizard World’s Comic Con Box offerings earlier at borg.com here.  Our conclusion from a review of a few months of each of those boxes was that these may be for you depending on (1) how much you want to spend, (2) whether you like surprises, and (3) whether you have a broad interest in genre swag.

Friends we know who regularly subscribe to these box services tend to trade or sell items, or have friends of different interests they can give items to as gifts.  You can save money by committing to three months at a time, with Loot Crate this gets you a discount, and with Comic Con Box you can get an extra, exclusive variant comic book.  The biggest draw of box services generally is the exclusive swag.  Comic Con Box includes random gifts like autographed photos.  The two latest boxes, Nerd Block’s Sci-Fi Block and Funko’s Star Wars themed Smuggler’s Bounty also stress the exclusive swag that will be coming to their subscribers.

Smugglers Bounty

So what will you get?  It’s a surprise–You don’t find out until the box arrives.  But, the types of content in the boxes will be similar.  T-shirts, action figures, toys, comics, you name it, it might be included–as long as it can fit in the shipping box.

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