After jumping on this summer’s Buffy Watch bandwagon, and after four seasons, I think I can safely say that I’m a Firefly girl first. I know I still have three more Buffy seasons to go, but I have yet to see an episode that comes close to Out of Gas in drama, or that made me laugh half as much as Jaynestown.
To try to fill the emptiness of Firefly’s early cancellation as I can, including a very used “Browncoats” saved search on Twitter and buying the continuation comics, also written by Joss Whedon.
Those Left Behind (Serenity #1)
If you’ve followed the series and then saw the movie you may have noticed there were some things left unexplained, mainly the fact that Inara and Shepherd weren’t on Serenity. Those Left Behind was created as a transition story, to fill those gaps.
One of the best things about this volume (originally a 3-book comic) is the introduction by Nathan Fillion. It’s a touching account of how he’s loved comic books since he was a kid, how he always wanted to be a super hero and how the challenge to play Captain Malcolm Reynolds gave him the opportunity to fulfill that dream.
So, I guess the message I want to leave you with is this: What you hold in your hand is not just a comic. It is much more. It is a handbook. It is a guide. It is reference material for when you become a superhero. I found the secret, you see. To become a superhero, all you have to do is want it badly enough, and comics are the fuel to that fire.
The story revolves about a scavenger mission that turns out to be a trap orchestrated by old enemies. In between, fans are treated to great Whedon-style moments, like the growing doubts of Sheppard Book, stuck between his religious beliefs and the ship’s shenanigans, and a rare glimpse at scenes from the Unification War (it’s great not to be limited by budget restrictions!).
The story has glimpses of the brilliancy of the series but not exactly quite there, probably because it felt hurried and a bit crammed with information. Whedon managed to publish dozens of Buffy comic books, including a full 8th Season after the TV show ended, but I think he knew he wouldn’t have that chance with Firefly.
I know there was a big chance I’d be a bit disappointed with the book. The artists did tried to make the characters recognizable but fell a bit short, especially with Mal and Inara. I really like the colors a lot though – they seemed to reflect the spirit of the series even better than the TV series. Overall, the book felt more like a really cool storyboard for a lost episode of Firefly.
It’s still a great treat for fans, but it inevitably falls short of a full fledge episode.
Better Days and Other Stories (Serenity #2)
I liked Better Days And Other Stories a lot better than Those Left Behind. Instead of full a “episode”, this volume has four short-stories, my favorite of which was written by comedian Patton Oswalt and works as an homage to Wash.
I can’t quite put my finger on why I prefer this volume. I know that I laughed more, the action scenes felt more exciting and the artwork more realistic. Dialogues and the interaction between characters also rang true and there were some golden moments, like Simon treating Jayne for an STD, the bitter-sweet flashbacks of Wash’s adventures and the moment when River really joins the crew.
There’s a scene in the first story, Better Days, where we see each crew member fantasize about what they’d do if they became billionaire, and they were all spot on (oh Kylee, you’re still my favorite!).
Also loved the three drawings between the stories, which together make up a shiny triptych.