Off The Shelf: Sam Reviews All New Firefly #1

This time for Off The Shelf, Sam reviews All New Firefly #1 by Boom! Studios, with story by David Booher, art by Jordi Perez, Francesco Segala and Gloria Martinelli, and lettering by Jim Campbell.

Hello and welcome to Off the Shelf, where we review some of the latest comics that are on the shelves today. I’m Samuel Blair, hospice chaplain and co-host of Church of the Geek along with Brian Bennet. Today I’m reviewing All New firefly #1: story by David Booher, art by Jordi Perez, Francesco Segala and Gloria Martinelli, and lettering by Jim Campbell.

Joss Whedon’s Firefly TV series earned a very devoted following in its brief lifespan. Its mix of science fiction and western elements was remarkable at the time, and really still is today. While the series ended with 2005’s (2005? Am I really that old?) film Serenity, the Firefly franchise has lived on in novels and comics since then.

Boom! Studios currently has the rights to the series and has kicked off a new one with All New Firefly #1. While the title is “all-new” things overall seem very familiar save for a few notable exceptions. The most notable difference for newcomers like me is that Mal is no longer the captain, Kaylee is. This leads to some interesting dynamics among the crew as one may expect. There is also Lawrence, a new crewmember who unfortunately is pretty much unexplained in this issue.

The issue, and apparently this arc of the series, focuses on Jayne Cobb. It opens with a vignette of a young Jayne stealing medicine for his brother until he literally runs in to one of the city priests, Father Franklin. His mother, Radiant Cobb, tries to talk him out of punishment but that doesn’t get him anywhere.

The scene then cuts to the “present day” of the series, where Jayne is confronted by the brother of a man who died on Higgins’ Moon waiting for Jayne to come back to rescue them from a life of poverty. Jayne fights back, which lands him in jail, forcing Mal to break him out and flee the moon Lilac before the crew of Serenity can adequately resupply and refuel.

Back on Serenity, the crew confronts Jayne for his recklessness and decides to head to another mysterious moon called Requiem which Jayne had overheard was a waypoint for smugglers. When they get there, they find that it seems to be something else entirely.

This is a good comic, but it suffers from several things. Prime among them for me is that it doesn’t help new readers who are familiar with the TV series and film but haven’t read the fiction that followed. The character of Lawrence is a prime example. The character has two lines and an undefined role on the crew. I tried looking up the character on wikis but couldn’t find anything. A brief one-panel splash page highlighting the characters and their roles would have been tremendously helpful here.

Second are some holes in the writing. There’s one glaring typo for example – and I mean “glaring” as in large-font and highlighted – as well as a mysterious plot hole as to how the crew actually accomplishes their getaway to Requiem so easily, while losing a host of Alliance ships after them.

Third, and maybe most difficult for me, is the characterization of Kaylee Frye, the former mechanic and current captain of Serenity. Mal at one point in the movie says, “I don’t believe there is a power in the ‘verse that can stop Kaylee from being cheerful.” Her cheerfulness, wholesome character and optimism during the series made her stand out among the crew and made her a lot of fun to watch. Now though, she is more often than not scowling and serious, often drawn with a furrowed brow and a mild snarl on her lips.

So, what happened? I don’t know. But something in me doesn’t like it. Narratively, it seems like the burden of responsibility for those she cares for is wearing her down. She struggles with leadership and is quite hard on herself when things go wrong. Maybe I’m mad that Kaylee Frye could exist in a world that could break her spirit. Maybe it’s nostalgia – a remembrance of the past that we find comforting but which can also trap us in rigid thinking. I think we are all grasping for whatever pieces of the past that feel “normal” that we can find. I can’t believe that we as a race can now wistfully recall times where we didn’t have to think if we had a mask with us when we went out, or when we weren’t worried that anarchy or world war would be in tomorrow’s newspaper.

But all things considered this seems to be off to an interesting start. Maybe as things move along some of the questions I have will be answered and things will even out a bit. I still love this crew and am so glad to see them still in the heroing game.

All this aside, this is the world we have and Captain Kaylee is now as tired of all this nonsense as we all are.  Maybe punching Jayne will make her feel better – it seems to help others.

You can find All New Firefly #1 on sale now at your local comic shop, or check it out on Hoopla through your local library.

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