Firefly was a grand ol’ SF show with a loyal fanbase that, in accordance with standard Fox TV practice, was promptly shot and buried in a shallow grave, only having 14 episodes made. This was somewhat made right when Universal Pictures released Serenity, a feature length film that tied things up in a pretty enough bow to be seen as a decent finale.
But much like the original Star Trek, the fans wouldn’t let it die. Even now, ten years after Serenity, Browncoats everywhere still hope the series will rise from the grave. While I don’ reckon that’ll happen any time soon, Joss Weadon and others have kept the ’verse alive in a series of comics from Dark Horse.
The appeal of the series isn’t hard to understand, just about every kid in my generation grew up with dreams of getting’ our own ship and crew and having adventures. Star Trek is all well and good, but at its heart it lacks a sense of personal freedom—the Enterprise is part of a big ol’ space organization an’ most of the crew are just cogs making it work—and even the ones in charge take their orders.
Firefly/Serenity is more like following Han Solo before he ever got tangled up with them Rebels. It’s very much an intentional combination of science fiction and old-west genres. Imagine how the cantina in Mos Eisley feels, but take it up a notch, where pistols resemble old fashioned revolvers, people wear dusters, horses are still ridden, and trains do indeed still get robbed.
To keep the dream alive, there have been four comic collections made so far, most dealing with the times before or during the TV series, or the gap between the series and the movie. Leaves on the Wind, however, is the first book to continue the story after the events in Serenity, making it of even more interest to fans.
We open with an almost Frank Millar-esque televised debate, focused on the shocking revelations made at the end of Serenity and how it’s being spun as propaganda by one blatantly Rush Limbaugh-esque pundit. Meanwhile, others have unified due to the broadcast, creating a new underground resistance.
Mal and most of his crew, on the other hand, are layin’ low out in the void, trying to avoid contact with the Alliance. Zoe is about to give birth, Jayne has gone back home to his family, and River is about as close to normal as she’s likely to ever come. But the Alliance hasn’t forgotten about River, and there is a new push to track her down and retrieve her.
While Joss Whedon was the writer of the TV show and film, and was involved in the previous three comic collections, his brother Zack is responsible for this particular series. The artwork, by Georges Jeanty, is solid, though his take on the actors don’t always match up with the show. That’s not exactly a bad thing, however. I find comics that try too hard to be realistic end up losing far more than they gain. It’s better for the artist and the art to simply have a consistent take on any given character and let the reader adapt.
Told in six chapters, this series is more like a continuation of the TV show rather than a second movie, though in an interconnected soap opera format instead of self-contained episodes. Several characters from the show and movie return, and more of the Alliance’s secrets concerning River Tam are revealed. All in all it makes for a great story for any Browncoat, and sets itself up nicely for another series in, one would hope, the not too distant future.
Firefly/Serenity isn’t the first show to find renewed life as a comic book, and in some ways it’s getting more and more popular to do so. Even long forgotten shows like Millenium have been revived in recent years. More TV shows and movies are being based off of comics (not just the superhero franchises) and shows that aren’t renewed can sometimes find new life or at least some closure in comic book form.
While this can be a kind of safety net of sorts, allowing fans to not feel completely left hanging when their favorite show is canned, in some ways it’s not nearly as satisfying. Leaves on the Wind is a fine comic, but it also feels like a distant echo, a glimpse of what might have been. But it still calls out to that part of me that still desperately wants his own spaceship, point it at the nearest star, and go.
Take me out to the black
Tell them I ain’t coming back
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can’t take the sky from me
Originally Published in KODT #222