Thursday, 30 January 2014

New Beginnings - Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #1

by Matt Puddy

Joss Whedon has a good amount to answer for, especially in some fans' eyes, both good and bad. One of those points would be the TV series Firefly and the subsequent film Serenity. Many people loved them both, and Fox's decision to cancel the series meant that the void has been filled by the aforementioned film, alongside various novels and comics set within their 'Verse, cementing the cult status that it has achieved.

Continuing the canon from Firefly and Serenity, Dark Horse brings us a new Serenity comic series with Leaves on the Wind. Also “keeping it in the family,” the series is written by Zack Whedon, one of Joss’s younger brothers (his other younger brother Jed is currently working on Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD), while Joss himself is acting as an executive producer. It's been over three years since The Shepherd's Tale, the last Serenity comic from Dark Horse (not counting the Free Comic Book Day 2012 short story, both of which were also written by Zack Whedon) and it's fair to say the anticipation is high. This is the first story set after the events of the film, aside from the Float Out one-shot.

Having not read any of those other comics or novels though, my exposure is purely through the series and the film. Despite this I felt comfortable straight away as things picked up less than a year after Serenity ended. The story opens with a fierce televised political debate over the existence of the planet called Miranda whose millions of inhabitants were allegedly either murdered or turned into the cannibalistic psychopath Reavers. The public face of things is in dispute over what is really going on. From a military point of view though things are far more clear and sadly too close to the truth for their own liking which makes Malcolm Reynolds a very wanted man. The trouble is no one knows where he is or how to find him, and he intends on keeping it like that. It’s only aboard Firefly - where we learn of the absence of Jayne and continue to feel the loss of the late Wash and Shepherd Book - that we see all of the crew, including a heavily pregnant Zoe (apparently first introduced in the Float Out one-shot). The pregnancy is coming to term, and some complications on baby Emma’s arrival into the world mean that Firefly’s crew are no longer afforded the luxury of obscurity and have to come back into the light, which also means the firing line.

We do also get a glimpse of Jayne as well, who true to form has a price which is met when the newly formed and slowly growing Resistance enlist his services to find Mal. For once though it’s not to kill him or hunt him, but because they believe he will be their salvation.

The team of Zack Whedon and artist Georges Jeanty have produced a story and comic that is very easy on the eye, and easily fits in with everything I already knew. Jeanty is no stranger to Joss Whedon characters having pencilled most of Buffy Season Eight. The depictions of characters, with some minor exceptions, are identifiable and the dialogue even sounded like the actors in my head, complete with Malcolm’s drawl. In total it felt right - a good story and a great follow up to the film. As I said I had no clue about what happened in the other arcs prior to this, but that wasn’t needed either. It does require the reader to at least be familiar with the TV series and the film, but that's hardly a stretch for most discerning comic readers!

I would hope that fans of Serenity will love this comic; it’s a great continuation of Whedon’s world but I also know how critical they can be. Thankfully most Browncoats seem to be overwhelmingly supportive! For me it was a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Matt Puddy is contemplating fleeing for his life from crazed zombies in Cardiff.

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