Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: Serenity: Those Left Behind

Serenity: Those Left Behind
Serenity: Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are a fan of Joss Whedon's TV series Firefly and its cinematic follow-up Serenity, then this is a comic that is right for you. Chronologically, it takes place after the series and before the movie. Unfortunately, it does seem that prior knowledge of the universe and the characters is necessary for full understanding of this book, but it would still be an enjoyable read even without that knowledge. Captain Mal and his crew are, as always, running low on cash in their spaceship that needs fuel and repairs, and willing to go against the law to get what they need. The comic opens with Mal and several crew-mates facing up against another group of bandits after the same stash of loot. Showing himself to have honor, Mal agrees to let the others take the prize, until they press their luck too far by demanding his gun, too-- the gun that got him through the war. The two groups clash, and their opponents end up getting away with the money, but not Mal's gun. Our heroes make their escape from the enraged townsfolk empty-handed, and so can't afford to pass up the next opportunity that comes along to make some cash. Unfortunately, that makes them fall into the trap set for them by a former adversary of Mal's, who has teamed up with the corrupt government agents who have been trying to get their hands on two of Mal's passengers: Simon and River Tam, siblings on the run ever since Simon rescued River from a life of government testing. Always gifted, River is now a bit unhinged, with psychic abilities that no one really understands, as well as deadly martial arts skills. The art style portrays the characters faithfully and recognizably as they appear on-screen, though with a comic book twist: slightly more muscles on the men, slightly slenderer waists on the women, and similar subtle distortions. As in the show, foul language is replaced by Chinese, and there is a decidedly Western, cowboy feel to the colonized planets they visit-- the townsfolk chase them on horses and on futuristic hovering machines. Recommended for Firefly or Joss Whedon fans grades 8 and up.

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