Thursday, May 1, 2014

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind, Issues #3 & #4, by Dark Horse Comics

This week I'm taking a look at the two latest issues of the miniseries Serenity: Leaves on the Wind. As I mentioned in my previous review, I had some serous concerns regarding this particular series and the direction that it seemed to be going. Particularly with the tendency to rehash and reuse already existing ideas rather than expanding and improving upon the 'Verse. As this project comes closer to an end, being ostensibly only a six-issue miniseries, the initial intentions of this project seem rather audacious in hindsight. Put together, these six issues might have enough material for one, possibly two forty-five minute episodes of the original TV show. All of the questions and potential plot threads that this miniseries raises could be covered with a whole season of a TV show, rather than just a few episodes. The result is the feeling that we will be left with an unsatisfying finish to a story that had already been tied up.

WARNING: Dear and gentle readers, I have once again found it sadly necessary to delve into the spoiler material of this particular work and shall be doing so in the rest of the review. If you are desirous of avoiding spoilers, now is the time to avert your eyes. 

The third issue consists of almost a repeat of the episode "Objects in Space", as Jubal Early takes out the members of the crew one by one, but with the added twist that Jubal (somehow) forgets about Kaylee and she whacks him over the head with a giant wrench. Mal and crew debate what exactly to do next, with River saying they should go break into the Academy and rescue more of the students to they can rescue Zoe from the prison she's been sent to. Of course, they can't do this without help so Mal finds the Operative from  Serenity and they team up.

The fourth issue begins with the Operative coming on board and Serenity's crew dumping a bound Jubal Early as they take off, presumably to his death. (Although I get the feeling that he'll be back again as well.) A little bit of development is given to the prison planet where Zoe's been sent. Much like a Siberian gulag the environment makes escape impossible so there's not much hope. Otherwise we see the gang break into the Academy only to discover: 1. it's a trap, and 2. all the other students at the Academy have been successfully brainwashed which means the crew is now in incredible danger.

I think my biggest frustration is the return of both Jubal Early and the Operative. When the Operative was revealed at the end of issue #3, I was half-expecting Saffron to pop out of a trash can at some point in the next issue as well. In a, let's cram everyone possible into the series sort of thing. Fortunately, that did not happen, but I'm sort of left wondering why we even bothered with Jubal Early. He doesn't seem to do anything to the plot other than (very temporarily) inconvenience the characters. He shows up out of space, tracks them down, gets beaten by Kaylee, and then dumped out the airlock. It's like all the time we spent with him could have been better spent further developing the plot. I get the feeling he was included because the creators think he's this really cool character and want to see more of him, but I was never really a fan. He's just sort of this dangerous, violent sociopath that is less interesting (to me) than Jayne.

My outlook for the next to comics and the theoretical finish to this series is not terribly optimistic. I feel like the creators have spent four issues building bigger and greater challenges for the heroes to overcome and now we're faced with two issues to resolve everything by the end. Maybe they'll be able to pull it off in two issues but my biggest fear is that it'll be so haphazard and rushed that it will fail to give a real sense of closure to this project. I'd also complain about the lack of focus on the larger macro-scale of the sociopolitical structure, but Firefly never was really about that so it's an invalid complaint. Hopefully things will get better, but I'm not exactly sanguine.

- Kalpar

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