There’s this bizarre trend in comics right now where everything I think is good is being taken into consideration and everything that I’m saying is bad is banged on a bass drum over and over like it’s time for the moron parade. So instead of talking about things that we already know, I thought I might venture into some uncharted territory—and by uncharted I mean into a fandom that is so entrenched in geek culture that you can’t say , “Let’s be bad guys,” without squeals of delight and talk of a very keen hat. That’s right; I’m reviewing the new Serenity comic published by Dark Horse Comics, “Leaves on the Wind.” Shiny.
Over the years Joss Whedon has allowed the publication of a few stories within the Serenity universe, mostly because he misses it like a dead relative but also to remain relevant. And it is working. Every comic published that falls under the umbrella of the Serenity universe is remarkably good and this current issue is no exception. The story is fantastically cinematic and helps explore corners of this universe that are familiar stomping grounds to series fans. From the cold and sterile quarters of the Alliance starships to the rough and rugged frontiers, a quick brush with the cramped and crowded city centers of Alliance space, and finally hanging around on our favorite decrepit ship in the verse, Serenity. Though I can hear series fans crying out that if this comic is starting out so cinematically, why isn’t this being made into the movie or television series we all so desperately want. My short answer is this will never happen, stop deluding yourself. My long answer would be somewhat more diplomatic and explain studio system dynamics. Just be thankful that we get this to tide us over until they finish the Firefly MMORPG in summer of 2014.
Whatever your feelings on Joss Whedon as a person, you can’t deny that he has a keen eye on the industry he’s forced to work in. With his burning desire to do more within the Serenity universe he created, he saw the wild success his “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” comics were having, how he was able to establish cannon for the entire series without the million dollar budget a television series requires. Now we get to see the methodical approach as he expands the ‘Verse for his faithful Browncoats. And what’s great is that writer Zack Whedon moves gracefully past the backstory. Not to say he doesn’t mention the monumental things that have happened within this story, he simply frames it through the lens of a televised debate. All of the facts and details of a backstory with the compelling action of a heated argument filled with vitriol and hyperbole. It’s like a subconscious download of information for those unfamiliar with the mythos—which is no one—and moves on to other important matters like the machinations of our beloved crew in the time that we haven’t seen them.
A bulk of the story, unlike previously published comics, takes place aboard the Serenity which is now adrift on the fringes of Alliance space, hoping no one would think to look for them out there. Things are becoming dire, rations are low, the ship is in a state of disrepair, money has become very tight, and to top it off Zoe had her baby and there were complications. Not with the baby! Don’t worry; Zoe is just hemorrhaging internally so she’s got that going for her. Did I also mention she has PTSD? Yeah, she keeps reliving Wash’s death. So yay! All of our favorite characters are here! And by the way, all of the art is magnificently beautiful. Each character is depicted with such loving detail you practically don’t need a movie because each frame is a movie still. All in all, this is a fantastic first issue to get the fans re-involved with the Serenity universe.
One advantage that “Leaves on the Wind” exploits is that most everyone who is reading this series are very familiar with the source material. It jumps straight into the action and adventure of the story without having to explain the rules of this universe. When “Invincible” started it was much the same. It branded itself very well as a comic using super hero tropes as the language it would tell the story. Thus it was able to smoothly move past things like the root of Mark Grayson’s power in order to explain it more clearly at a juncture that was more prudent. “Serenity: Leaves on the Wind” has much the same benefit. Any information I’m not receiving, I’m confident enough in the storytelling that I know it will happen when it is necessary.