Firefly #4 // Review
Boom! Studios’ Firefly, based on Joss Whedon’s television show of the same name, is a tricky beast. The original program is so beloved, with such distinct and compelling characters, that revisiting it in licensed comic form is a no-brainer. The Boom! series, however, is somehow set in between episodes of the series (rather than after the live-action story’s conclusion in the 2005 film Serenity), which means that it jettisons a great deal of character growth and undercuts any suspense. This has led the first three issues of the series to feel like a thin copy of the original TV show, showing us immature versions of the characters and situations with no real stakes. Finally though, after a few issues of retreading old ground, the fourth issue finally brings some surprises.
The issue begins with Wash, Inara, Book, and Jayne at the mercy of the religious zealots who had hired the team to safeguard their travels to a new home and who had since double-crossed them to sacrifice them to their gods. While Simon and River are in the custody of the Unification troops who had been hunting Mal and Zoe (who have made temporary peace with the leader of those troops). What follows is a series of double-crosses and comic set pieces that end the arc, only to finish with a surprising cliffhanger.
Greg Pak’s plotting is tight, and he does a great job of capturing the unique faux-Western patois of the TV-show. Now that the comic is a few issues in, he’s begun capturing the voices of the individual characters in a way that can be really charming. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t manage to wring real stakes out of characters whose fates we already know.
Illustrator Dan McDaid’s layouts are dynamic, and his scratchy, kinetic style (aided by inkers Anthony Fowler Jr. and Tim Lattie) keeps the action beats exciting. His design of the original characters in the story fits well into the traditional world of the franchise while still being innovative and exciting. His conception of the main characters, however, leaves a little to be desired; none of the faces bear any resemblance to the actors who originated these characters; it is mostly the work of colorist Marcelo Costa that connects them to the original portrayals. Jim Campbell’s letters flow seamlessly, telling the story efficiently and staying out of the way of the art.
This issue is the best issue yet of this series, which is, unfortunately, a low bar to surpass. Would that this title could reach the heights of Boom!’s other Joss Whedon adaptation. Still, the ending of this issue at least promises something new for next month’s installment.