Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind (Firefly Class 03-K64) by Zack Whedon with Georges Jeanty, Fabio Moon, & Dan Dos Santos

Summary:  In the film Serenity, outlaw Malcolm Reynolds and his crew revealed to the entire 'verse the crimes against humanity undertaken by a sinister government -- the Alliance.  Here is the official follow-up to the film, the crew has been in hiding since becoming everyone's most wanted, and now, when they are forced to come out, one of their own is captured.  More secrets uncovered by River lead these former Browncoats on a dangerous mission against the Alliance that, with hope, will bring them together again...

Television writer Zach Whedon (Southland, Halt and Catch Fire) continues the saga of Joss Whedon's space cowboys in Leaves on the Wind, along with Whedon alum artist Georges Jeanty (Buffy the Vampire Slayer).  Also collected here for the first time, is Zack's short story "It's Never Easy with artist Fabio Moon (Sugarshock, Casanova)(Summary from back of book - Image from amazon.com)

My Review:  Several years ago I came across the Firefly TV series on Netflix.  It was only one season so I binged it rather quickly and loved it so much that I dragged my husband in to re-watch it with me. We don't always like the same shows, but we both looooooooved Firefly.  When the show was canceled (through no fault of its own), it's loyal fans (aka Browncoats) rallied and helped raise enough money for a full-length feature film to give the series some closure.  That movie is called Serenity.  While I entered the fandom a little too late to be involved in the movie-making, I do consider myself to be a loyal 'Browncoat'My husband and I have watched the series several times and recently introduced our teenage daughters to it as well.  Mind you, we had to do a little bit of fast-forwarding in a few of the episodes, but our daughters have joined the Browncoats as well.  In the wake of finishing the series, my daughters were looking for any Firefly-related reading they could get their hands on and so I scoured our local library for anything in the fandom.  This graphic novel came up, as well as a few others and a fiction series and I put them all on reserve.  While I'm not generally a fan of graphic novels, I am always willing to make an exception for those attached to my favorite books or shows (like the Wires & Nerve series attached to Cinder). 

The first thing I noticed when picking this book up from the library was the absolutely phenomenal cover art by Dan Dos Santos.  It is a thoroughly spot-on depiction of the main character Malcolm Reynolds.  However, when I started reading, I realized that aside from the cover and the chapter break art, Georges Jeanty was responsible for the majority of the content which didn't resemble the cover art or the characters as much as I expected or wanted (see image below).  This could be normal for graphic novels, but, as I'm a newbie who expected the book to match the cover art, I was heartily disappointed.

Image result for serenity leaves on the wind

One of my favorite things about the Firefly tv series, aside from how much I just love the characters, was that each episode is chock full of quotable quips like "I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you!," "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!," and "Well, my time of taking you not seriously is certainly coming to a middle."  With a Whedon of any kind attached the project, I was hoping for more of the same kind of wisecrackery and I didn't really get it.  Oh, there was a chuckle or two...but I wasn't reading with a giant goofy grin on my face (which is exactly how I watch the series)...and, again, I was disappointed.

As for the story.  Well...it was okay.  Because of all the previously listed reasons, I felt kind of disconnected from the story.  I don't really want to spoil the major events, but there were some old characters I didn't expect to see again and some new additions to the story that weren't so much surprising as satisfying.  My least favorite part of the book was that a certain much-awaited romantic relationship came to fruition, if you will, in a rather abrupt, matter-of-fact way. It felt completely devoid of emotion and still managed to show more skin that I felt was necessary.  O.o  I will say that I liked the short story "It's Never Easy" tacked on at the end, better than the main content. Somehow, it felt a little more like seeing old friends than the rest of it did, though the artwork was even further afield.

Ultimately, this graphic novel just didn't live up to my (admittedly high) expectations.  I definitely wouldn't recommend it to someone who hasn't watched the show -- they'd be utterly lost.  However, I fully recognize that I'm not the authority on Firefly or graphic novels, so it's possible that an avid fan of both might have a different experience than I did.  If that is the case, please don't consign me to the special hell reserved for child molesters and people who talk at the theater. Just leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the book.  I'd be interested in your perspective.  I happen to have the second book in the series, Serenity: No Power in the Verse, sitting right next to me at this very moment, and I might give it a try to see if things improve (and to peruse Dos Santos new artwork).  UPDATE:  I didn't much care for the main story (except for Jaynes new sweater!),but I loved the adorable short story, The Warrior and the Wind, and heartily admired all of  Dos Santos stunning artwork.  I hope to have better luck with the fiction series I requested when it finally comes in at the library. (UPDATE: I did. Have better luck, I mean.  Stay tuned!)

Until then... I'm a leaf on the wind....

My Rating:  3 Stars (but 5 for the cover images and chapter break art).

For the sensitive reader:  There  *might* be some swearing (if you speak Chinese) but I can't be certain.  In the series they used Chinese sometimes when angry, but I was never quite sure what they were saying.  There are a few instances of drawn intimacy or near intimacy.  You don't see "parts" but you get the general idea of what's going on.

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