This is an odd little comic in several ways. First of all, it’s a bridge between a TV show, Firefly, and a movie, Serenity. The show, a terrific sci-fi/western which was only on the air for half a season, was a cult favorite, but that couldn’t stop its cancellation. After being released on DVD, it sold so well that a feature film was made to tie up several loose ends. This comic offers an explanation for why two characters aren’t on the spaceship at the beginning of the movie. Secondly, the story was released in three comic issues, so the trade is a very thin book and the plot is rather slight. One of the main attractions of the single issue comics were the nine covers (three per issue), one for each of the main characters, drawn by well respected comic artists such as John Cassaday, Joe Quesada, and Tim Bradstreet. Finally, many people I’ve talked to were disappointed by the story, as was I the first time reading it. It just wasn’t good enough for us, though I m not sure that anything would be good enough to fill the Firefly/Serenity need that many people seem to have.
However, on a second reading, I see more of the strengths of the book. Yes, it is too brief, but Joss Whedon’s signature writing style, honed over many years on Buffy and Angel, is in full force and as I read I could hear the actor’s voices bring the scenes to life. Will Conrad’s art is strong, especially in the way he lays out a scene across the page, and Laura Martin’s colors are simply magnificent. The covers from the original comics are included and it s interesting to see how each artist has depicted their character. The nicest surprise in the trade book was the introduction, beautifully written by Nathan Fillion, who played Captain Mal Reynolds. His words are a love song to comics and to Whedon for allowing him, for just a little while, to become a superhero. Is this a truly great comic? No, but it is nicely done and it s a good purchase for a library with Firefly, Serenity, and/or Josh Whedon fans and I bet you have more of those than you’d think!
Serenity, vol. 1: Those Left Behind
by Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, Will Conrad
Dark Horse, 2006