Thursday, July 31, 2014

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind, Issues #5 & #6, by Dark Horse Comics

Okay, first off I want to apologize for the relative lateness of this particular post. Due to the regular internet blackouts I've been suffering, I just plain forgot when the final issue of Leaves on the Wind came out. On top of that due to one thing and another I wasn't able to upload a new post until very recently. Rest assured, dear readers, that the Kalpar is out there fighting the good fight. Just mostly without internet.

Secondly, I want to state that I was rather disappointed with this series as a whole. You may recall that early on I voiced some concerns because it seemed like they were rehashing old ideas that had been utilized in the series rather than introducing new ideas and expanding the 'Verse. Now I can understand a desire to establish a sense of continuity with the series and movie, reusing old ideas, old characters, and old situations, but honestly I don't think it was necessary to make a good comic. You already have the continuity of the characters and the ship from the original series and as readers we want to know what happens to Serenity and her crew. And I think I'd like to see new and exciting adventures for her as well. And going in new directions is probably the real strength for the comics. For example, probably my favorite Serenity comic is Float Out, a one-shot story that shared stories of Wash's past as told by three different people who knew him. Float Out preserved continuity with the character of Wash, but introduced new aspects of his past. Granted, we already knew that Wash was a great pilot and saw that quite a few times, but we get to see how Wash forged his reputation while still being that funny, goofy, pretty nice guy that we know and love. Of course, this isn't guaranteed to work. I don't much care for The Shepherd's Tale (BECAUSE IT MAKES NO SENSE!) But there was at least an attempt to build the 'Verse up.

The biggest problem I have with Leaves on the Wind is that it squanders its potential as a story. In the first issue, you get a feeling of how very big things have become. Mal and company can no longer stay out of the way of the Alliance because their names are on everybody's lips. The New Resistance waxes in strength and the foundation of the Alliance begins to crumble. Personally I was really interested in seeing the aftereffects of the revelation regarding the Reavers and how the Alliance sought to maintain control. But the story....doesn't go there. It may start out big, but it contracts and becomes very, very small, focusing once again on Malcolm and his crew while the Alliance disappears into the background. The story starts with Mal trying to lie low, and ends with him trying to lie low.

Which actually leads to my other frustration is that things don't change terribly much over the course of the comics. Yes, things happen, but they don't really build the 'Verse in a meaningful way. Bea joins Serenity's crew, but Bea received so little development of a character in this miniseries that she could be replaced by a cardboard cutout with no real changes. Mal decides he's going to start fighting back against the Alliance rather than running away. A decision which he had already made (quite dramatically I might add) in the film and apparently forgot in the intervening nine months. Finally we get a new villain who's determined to capture River. This does set up a new conflict for what I'm assuming will be the inevitable next set of comics, but aside from the most basic details of the new villain we don't really know much about them. We don't even get a name. And I get the feeling like we're still stuck story-wise and we can't break out of the larger arc of “River on the run from the Alliance”. Which the movie was supposed to tie up in a nice neat bow. It all feels very frustrating.

As a die-hard Browncoat I'll probably find myself sucked into the next series of comics that come out, but my expectations are going to stay fairly low. It just seems like the comic creators can't really strike out in a new direction with the series, even in its new format. Possibly the new villain will make things a little more interesting, but I'm not optimistic. But here's hoping. Keep 'em flying.

- Kalpar  

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