Thursday, March 20, 2014

CBR Serenity: Those Left Behind


Where Old West meets Space Opera!

Want more Jess Whedon cult classics, check these previous reviews!

Comic title: Serenity Vol. 1: Those Left Behind 
Written by Joss Whedon & Brett Matthews
Illustrated by Will Conrad 

Published by Dark Horse Comics
From 2006 (2012)
Lineup Firefly/Serenity series
Format: Hardcover Trade Paperback, collecting the mini-series Serenity: Those Left Behind #1-3.

The cult classic TV Show Firefly created by Joss Whedon was a fan favorite... but sadly only ran on Fox for a more 11 episodes of the 14 filmed.

But great success on home release helped bring our space cowboys back in a feature lenght blockbuster movie-sequel, Serenity.

Firefly/Serenity takes place in the 26th century and follows the adventures of a ragtag team of ex-mercenaries and fugitives aboard the Firefly Class 03-K64 spaceship nicknamed "the Serenity".

Serenity: Those Left Behind was a Dark Horse Comics mini-series that ran for 3 issues, released in 2005 to tie into the movie release.

Let's check it out;

Our story takes place shortly after the awesome short-lived series, but before the great original scifi film. Bridging the gap between the end of Firefly and the events at the beginning of the movie.

We find our space-cowboys, still on the run from the Alliance.

The story begins in medias res, it jumps right back with Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his crew in the middle of a sort of "situation".

While the good Shepherd Book was giving a sermon at a congregation to keep a little town's attention focused elsewhere, Mal, Zoe and Jayne were using this distraction to rob the local bank blind.

Things turned out for the worse... and it's another lead in a short couple of weeks that turned sour!

The crew needs some money. So they take on the next first job the deceitful Badger as for them. Which is a scavenger mission this time actually. Some money left over from the war our browncoats fought for (and lost).

But in reality this might be something far worse... a trap for our heroes!

Turns out Badger didn't had the best intentions for our heroes in mind!

The blue hand men are back! They have some special interest in some particular people aboard the ship... It's in fact a trap by the mysterious organization to get their hands back on Simon and River Tam. They were hunting River and decided to enlist the help of Lawrence Dobson, an Alliance thug who has it bad after Malcolm Reynolds.

Will our heroes survive this deadly trap?!

It feels like an actual episode of the show. Joss Whedon always wanted to bring Dobson back, a character we thought to have been killed in the original pilot of the show. But since it was canceled so early he was never able to do so.

Whedon and Brett Matthews - a scriptwriter on most of his shows show writer from Buffy to Angel to Firefly - actually co-wrote this comic.

It has this distinct Firefly signature great characterization, humor and brilliant storytelling. They were even able to capture some of the quirks of the show, such as the Chinese cursing through the book - with hilarious effect on comic!

A great script that wouldn't been much without the fantastic art on the book.

Our artist Will Conrad managed to capture both the characters and the actors' facial features perfectly on the paper.

The whole comic as in fact this great very cinematic tone going for it. Great art all around.

There's some fantastic pages including beautiful renditions of the ship they call home, the Serenity!

Our space pirates are back in what seems a natural continuation of the series, taking place after the show, but not long before the movie. Trying to reconnect some plots such as the blue hand guys hunting River. We also get to see Shepherd on tenuous ground as he gets progressively frustrated by Mal's illegal activities, unsure of his own faith or if he will remain on the ship. Inara also is on the departure, thinking about leaving the Serenity since she can't make it work with Mal anymore these days. The other characters get less screentime, but it was expected on so little issues.

This mini-series featured some great cover art featuring the entire cast of characters, each Serenity: Those Left Behind issue had three alternate covers each featuring one of the 9 main characters. And they are gorgeous!

Each reflecting the characters and their personality to perfection!

Mal illustrated by John Cassaday. Jayne by Bryan Hitch. Inara illustrated by J. G. Jones. Shepherd Book illustrated by Tim Bradstreet. Kaylee by Jo Chen (my favorite cover to be honest). Zoe drawn by Joe Quesada (no less!). Wash by Sean Phillips. Simon Tam by Leinil Francis Yu. River Tam by Joshua Middleton.

And finally, the main covers/Trade paperback cover art beautifully rendered by Adam Hughes himself!

Overall, a great graphic novel! Highly recommended!

It's such a pleasure to find back this familiar western feel. In space!

Although I'm not that sure if that it is that easy to follow if you're familiar with either Firefly or Serenity. I doubt that's the best jumping off point for newcomers...

The comic was much better received than the TV series or film feature. In fact it turned into one of the biggest hits in 2006 for Dark Horse! Each issue going sold out and even through a handful of reprints, which helped launch a follow-up 3-issue mini-series titled "Serenity: Better Days".

The mini-series was originally reprinted through a digest-sized paperback.

The book reviewed here is the all-new hardcover "graphic novel" format, a second printing and new special edition with another new cover art done by Adam Hughes once again.

This release also includes some back-up material featuring behind-the-scenes concept art for the movie actually done back then by comic book artists Joss Whedon picked for the film and for the cover arts here again. As well as Joss' very own pitch for the entire Firefly/Serenity universe, up to and leading to the movie Serenity!


I give it:
2.5 / 3 Aaylas!

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