COMIC REVIEW: Serenity: Those Left Behind, 2nd Edition Hardcover

Joss Whedon’s Firefly will, as all good geeks know, go down in the annals of TV history as one of the greatest TV shows that was cancelled before its time. And as all good geeks know, it featured the best rag-tag bunch of reprobates and misfits aiming to misbehave in the ‘verse.

Whedon believed he had a great story to tell, and though those good folks at Fox messed with the TV schedule and ended the run before all episodes were shown, they gave him another shot with the feature film, Serenity. Wonderful film.

Those Left Behind is set in between the TV series and the film, and is the story of how Inara left Serenity, and why Shepherd Book did. It features all the main crew and a few old favourites from the TV show. Whedon is joined by show writer Brett Matthews and the art is by Will Conrad, who has also drawn Buffy comics, as well as X-Men, Conan, New Avengers, Birds of Prey and many more.

Our story begins, as many seem to, with crime going wrong: Mal, Jayne and Zoe in a face off and Wash needing to rescue them. Only this time, Book gets involved with the wrong-doing. Back on the ship, tension is rising over Inara’s scheduled departure and Mal’s insistence on avoiding the topic. Meanwhile, on Whitefall, the Hands of Blue are still on River’s trail. They come across an old adversary of the crew and surprisingly join forces. Back on Persephone, Badger recruits Mal for a job by dangling the war as temptation. Off they go to the wreckage of the space battle, in time to fall into the Hands’ trap. Without revealing the conclusion, some daring-do ensues and the set up for the film is revealed.

In a book designed for fans, Whedon and Matthews pull off a stunning tale, linking everything nicely between small and silver screens. All the best bits and fan favourites are touched upon or mentioned. Most of the characters have parts to play, with typical Whedonesque dialogue. Serenity plays her part too. There is typical antagonism between Zoe and Jayne and you can feel the strain between Mal and Inara. Only Simon’s role falls noticeably short, but this isn’t really his story. Instead, the writers show how Book loses his faith in his ability to function on the ship. The characters are all well drawn by Conrad, slightly off from how the actors all look, but that’s good. It gives the comic its own character. I like that. The ‘verse looks true to the screen versions and Serenity is, of course, beautiful. Kudos, also, then to Laura Martin for the colours, and some nice full-page character sketches from a variety of artists.

In this, Dark Horse’s second edition, you’ll find some nice extras previously only available in the limited deluxe edition. These include Joss Whedon’s “A brief history of the universe, circa 2516,” concept art and costume designs. Those Left Behind is everything a fan would want from a Serenity comic book, although it might leave non-fans confused and even cold.

 

Rating: 4.5/5
GS Reviewer: Ian J Simpson

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