Comic book review: Serenity (Those Left Behind)

Serenity, Vol. 1: Those Left Behind by Will Conrad (Author), Joss Whedon (Creator), Brett Matthews (Illustrator). Dark Horse Books, 2005.

14902What? A comic book review? Cool!

I don’t read comics. They never appealed to me because I was never really into superheroes – obviously I know there are tons of comics out there that don’t have any superheroes whatsoever, but it was also the general shortness of comics and always having to get the next one after only like 20 pages of reading that didn’t appeal to me.

But now that I’ve read a number of graphic novels, I’m warming up to comic collections as well. The first comic collection I’ve read and am now reviewing is Serenity: Those Left Behind, which includes comics #1-3 in the Serenity series. Spoiler-free, it’ll be a short review. I loved it.

For those of you who might not know, this series is a follow-up from the television show “Firefly” and the subsequent film “Serenity.” I watched the show for the first time last year and absolutely fell in love with it. After then watching the film, I went to the library to see if they had any of the comics, and they had the first collection. There actually aren’t many comics; there’s about 4 collections and that’s it. So I guess we have to continue on unsatisfied – the TV series was cancelled after 1 season, so fans will never be satiated.

“Those Left Behind” bridges the gap between the end of the TV series and the start of the film. This was especially pleasing to me because the end of the TV series left some rather nefarious villains at large (“hands of blue”), who never show up in the film because time has gone by and it’s assumed those dudes are just gone. I was glad to see how that particular conflict was resolved in the comic because it tied up that loose end for me. If you haven’t seen the show, it’s no good to read the comics. This might be disappointing advice, but you will thank me for it if you watch – it’s a seriously awesome show.

I guess I should mention this is in the sci-fi western genre. So if you are at all into the space-cowboy thing, you gotta watch it. It also has a bit of a steampunk vibe going on.

Anywho, the comic does an excellent job of capturing the characters’ personalities and voices. It wasn’t until I read the comic that I realized just how comic-book-like “Firefly” is as a show. The plot lines, settings, and characters lend themselves incredibly well to the genre, which seemed obvious once I started reading. There’s all the cheesy, witty banter you need, as well as plenty of action sequences. The things the comics were missing were the morally ambiguous dilemmas I oh-so-love about the show/movie, but I’m hoping more of those come up in the later comics. I’m also hopping for more Kaylee, but I’m always hoping for more Kaylee…

An added bonus in the particular edition from my library was “A Brief History of the Universe,” the pre-production memo Joss Whedon wrote for the show which details the back story of the society. This was super cool to read, A. because Joss Whedon is hilarious, and of course B. because it clarified some questions I had about the back story of the war and the Alliance and all that jazz. So basically what I’m saying is that if you are a fan of “Firefly,” read these books, and if you aren’t a fan of “Firefly,” become one.

4/5 stars, simply because I wanted more moral dilemma and (through no fault of its own, I suppose) just MORE in general!

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