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The Serenity is (barely) back in action.

Note: this is a spoiler-free advance review of Firefly #1, which will be released on Wednesday, November 14.

Both the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly franchises have recently migrated from Dark Horse Comics to BOOM! Studios. With the former, you almost have to wonder what the point is, given that Dark Horse’s comic book continuation lasted longer than the show itself and leaves little room for improvement. But Firefly, on the other hand, never felt like it got the attention it deserved at Dark Horse. With the original series spanning only one 14 episode season and a sequel movie, surely there’s plenty of untapped potential in a more in-depth comic book spinoff. Boom’s first Firefly project captures the tone  of the franchise, even if it doesn’t necessarily break new ground.

This new series from writer Greg Pak and artist Dan McDaid seems chiefly aimed at exploring the troubled past of Captain Mal Reynolds and Zoe Alleyne Washburne. The idea being that we’ll learn more about their role in the Unification War and the events that led to them becoming intergalactic fugitives. This first issue only offers glimpses of that conflict via quick flashbacks. The bulk of this story is standard Firefly – witty group banter, Wild West-meets-sci-fi adventure, sexual tension between Mal and Inara and a conflict revolving around the need for Mal’s crew to scrape together enough money to keep the Serenity in the “air.”

It is somewhat disappointing that Pak and McDaid don’t do more to venture off the beaten path with this franchise. On the other hand, much like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there’s something to be said for walking before running and proving to fans that the new creators know their way around the series’ fundamental tropes.

That much is made apparent in this first issue. Pak’s main accomplishment is showing that he has an ear for the goofy dialogue and general comedic timing of the TV series. Creator Joss Whedon is involved in a supervisory capacity. His voice isn’t necessarily blatantly apparent in the script, but the end product definitely feels like a Firefly story.And it’s appreciated that the story is set during the period of the TV series rather than post-movie, allowing Pak to play with the entire nine-character cast. Honestly, it’s not a bad jumping-on point for those who haven’t seen the show but still find themselves curious about the comic.

Pak also conjures up a fun setting, marooning Mal and crew on a world full of Ned Flanders-like religious paragons. Naturally, our heroes don’t take well to that sort of setting. It’s also an environment that makes the most of the franchise’s Wild West elements. There’s a clear Magnificent Seven/Man With No Name Trilogy influence to this story. That said, hopefully the series won’t wait too long before diving further into the flashback subplot. As it is, the quick, silent glimpses of the Unification War come across as more melodramatic than foreboding.

Dan McDaid brings a frenetic, grungy quality to the book that generally suits the Firefly universe well. He captures that lived-in quality and the awkward clash between advanced technology and 19th Century-inspired fashion. McDaid also handles the space scenes well, creating a sense of motion and chaos as the Serenity faces an unexpected attack. The figure work is a little less satisfying, however. McDaid’s characters are inconsistent in their general level of detail and their resemblance to the original actors. Mal always has that trademark smirk and swagger, but he doesn’t always bear a close resemblance to Nathan Fillion.

The Verdict

Firefly #1 doesn’t take many risks with this fan-favorite sci-fi saga, but maybe it’s enough for the new series to prove that it can capture what made that short-lived TV show work in the first place. Greg Pak’s writing channels the humor, sex appeal and edgy adventure of the source material, while Dan McDaid’s art gives the story a suitably grungy feel. This is a solid start, but hopefully the series won’t take too long before delving into Mal and Zoe’s past.


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