Thursday, December 5, 2019

Review: FIREFLY #1 (2018)

FIREFLY No. 1 (2018)
BOOM! Studios – @boomstudios

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Greg Pak
ARTIST: Dan McDaid
COLORS: Marcelo Costa
LETTERS: Jim Campbell
EDITOR: Jeanine Schaefer
COVER: Lee Garbett
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Jock; Joe Quinones; Tula Lotay; J.G. Jones; Bill Sienkiewicz; Adam Riches; Diego Galindo
32pp, Colors, $3.99 U.S. (November 2018)

Firefly created by Joss Whedon

“Firefly” was a science fiction and Western-themed television series created by Joss Whedon.  It was originally broadcast on the Fox Television Network during the 2002-2003 television season, although Fox only televised 11 of the 14 episodes that were produced.

The series was set in the year 2157 in a star system where human immigrants from Earth settled some time in the distant past.  The primary characters are the crew of nine people traveling aboard the “Firefly-class” spaceship named “Serenity.”  The lead character is Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds, the owner and captain of the Serenity.  Like his second-in-command, Zoe Alleyne Washburne, Mal is a veteran of the human civil war known as the “Unification War,” fighting on the side of the “Independent Army.”

The other characters are Hoban “Wash” Washburne, Serenity's pilot and Zoe's husband, and Kaywinnet Lee “Kaylee” Frye, the ship's mechanic.  There are also Inara Serra, a “Companion” (a kind of sex-worker) who resides aboard one of Serenity's two shuttles; Derrial Book, a “Shepherd” (equivalent of a pastor); and the mercenary, Jayne Cobb.  The final two passengers are Dr. Simon Tam, a top trauma surgeon; and River Tam, his sister who is a child prodigy who was part of some kind of “Alliance” science experiment.

From 2005 to 2017, Dark Horse Comics produced four miniseries, two one-shots, and one original graphic novel based on the “Firefly” franchise, under the title, “Serenity,” the name of the 2006 film based on the TV series.  BOOM! Studios recently obtained the license to produce comic books based on “Firefly.”

BOOM!'s debut title is the comic book series, Firefly.  It is written by Greg Pak; drawn by Dan McDaid; colored by Marcelo Costa; and lettered by Jim Campbell.  Firefly the comic book 2018 will apparently delve into Mal and Zoe's past in the Unification War (also known as “War of Unification”).

Firefly #1 finds the Serenity suffering from the purchase of bad replacement parts.  Things get worse when the ship is attacked by the federals in the form of an Alliance Army dreadnaught.  Forced to land on a moon named “Bethlehem,” the crew of the Serenity must find jobs that will earn them the one thousand in platinum credits that it will take to buy the new replacement parts that will allow Serenity to return to space.  A new job is the least of their worries, however, as two of the crew members find themselves with high bounties placed on their heads.

I became a huge fan of the “Firefly” TV series after a friend gave me a box-set collection of the series as a gift.  I liked that the show was as much a Western drama as it was a space adventure.  Greg Pak writes in his afterword that he will use this comic book to explore three different sub-genres within the larger Western genre.  Firefly #1 seems to borrow the well-worn Western sub-genre that involves a wagon train of outcasts slash misfits employing “hired guns” to escort them on a perilous journey.

In this case, the “hired guns” are our heroes from the Serenity.  I'll go with this scenario because this Firefly comic book reminds me of the American Western TV series, “Wagon Train” (1957 to 1965).  I am a fan of this mostly black-and-white series, which focused on a “wagon master” and his employees.  Each episode also detailed the trials and tribulations a guest character or characters (usually portrayed by well-know film and television stars of the day).  Elements of Firefly 2018 also remind me of the 1950 John Ford Western film, Wagon Master, which apparently inspired “Wagon Train.”

I like what I have read in this new Firefly comic book, although I will admit that this story is simply a slight variation on familiar television characters and themes in addition to the elements taken from the “Firefly” TV series and the Serenity film.  Much of Dan McDaid's art for Firefly #1 is unattractive, and the characters' faces are “fugly.”  Still, the art is highly functional, from a graphical storytelling point of view, and the coloring and lettering is good.  So let's see where this goes.

[This volume includes an “Afterword” by Greg Pak and short text pieces from Joss Whedon and Dan McDaid.]

7 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2018 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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