Serenity: Leaves on the Wind

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My first memories of Firefly/Serenity were the commercials to advertise “the upcoming show from the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. They weren’t very persuasive (to me or almost anybody else at the time) and I remember very vaguely watching 30 seconds of one episode, reading a very disappointed review of the first episode, and then the next thing I knew, it was cancelled. I never watched one episode.

A couple years later, they made a movie to follow up the show. It looked good, but somehow in my mind I just thought it seemed like a lame Star Wars (which we have established I love) wannabe and so I never saw it (again, judging by numbers, not that many people did).

This all changed when the movie went on sale at Best Buy. I bought it, liked it pretty well but didn’t really feel the deaths of ***SPOILER ALERT FOR SOMETHING THAT IS SEVERAL YEARS OLD*** Wash and Book. Book is barely in the movie and seemed like the token black guy that advises the white guy on what to do. The next time I was in Best Buy, the complete series was on sale for like $20. I bought it, watched it in the order that Joss Whedon intended and…mind blown.

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Finishing the series and then re-watching the movie was revelatory. It was indeed a space western with characters I liked, a cleverly thought out world that while self-contained also seemed endless and a story that seemed to progress as opposed to Star Trek, where the status quo was maintained throughout the show (I’m talking about TOS, not TNG, DS9, or those other 2 vastly inferior shows whose abbreviations I don’t know. That’s right Trekkies, come at me!). Also, it’s basically the adventures of Han Solo, but with a much more understandable supporting cast.

So I was transformed from someone who was totally ambivalent about Firefly into a devout Browncoat.  I loved it so much that I got my brother and mother hooked on it. The sad cloud that hangs over this otherwise happy story is that we have all come to the conclusion that there will never be another TV show or movie that resolves these characters stories. While that is going to work out great for Kaylee and Simon, there are so many other things that didn’t get resolved, and it is a disappointment.

If I’m allowed one last absurd literary comparison before I get into the actual comic, it’s like Charles Dickens dying halfway through writing the Mystery of Edwin Drood. Fun side note, he allegedly offered to tell Queen Victoria the ending but because of her “Victorian” sense of morality, she said no to the spoilers, or she just wanted to follow along with the mystery like other readers.

Reason You Should Read It #1:

The Show Must Go On

Serenity 3Since fans never got the resolution to everything that they wanted from the show and movie, and because more movies and shows seemed unlikely, Whedon followed his own practice from Buffy: all comic stories are part of canon and continue the “official” story.

Whereas Marvel and DC comics share similarities with their movies, in Marvel’s case a sense of fun and quality, in DC um… their names are the same?  Anyway, Leaves on the Wind is the fourth Serenity comic story since the movie came out. One told Book’s origin story, the second was a flashback set between the show and the film and the third was written by Patton Oswalt and focused mostly on Wash. Book’s origin is very interesting and I would have been curious to see how they would have explained his backstory on the show. Leaves on the Wind begins almost a year after the movie ends and shows the impact of Mal’s decision to broadcast the truth about Miranda. In typical Serenity fashion, nothing is going right. The crew needs money, the ship is falling apart and Jayne is gone over some fight he had with Mal. A new threat from the Alliance forces the outlaws back into action.

One of the things that I might have missed from the Oswalt story was the beginning of a relationship between Mal and Inara. The series has always done a good job of playing up the attraction between the two and the “will they, won’t they?” back and forth is one of my favorite parts.  I miss that a little. It’s nice that they are a supportive couple and it gives Mal some happiness in a life that hasn’t had much, it was just a shock to pick up the story and discover they were together.

If it seems like I should say more about the plot, you don’t want to know all the plot twists, and there are plenty. In addition to the character interplay from the main crew, there are new Browncoats rising, deeper looks into the program that created River and many callbacks to the show and movie. Most importantly, it was just nice to be able to move the story forward and find out what happens next in the lives of these awesome characters. This was such a pleasant surprise, and the miniseries was so well done, I don’t even feel I need to give you a second reason to read it.

Historical Postlude

Serenity_Leaves_on_the_Wind_HC_coverAlright, so I lied just a little bit. I do have one other thing to say about Firefly/Serenity.

I know the aftermath of American Civil War is basis for this story. Lost Cause revisionists and Southern apologists, please stop trying to use Firefly as an attempt to vilify the North and imagine a world where the South won. This is ridiculous.

The Civil War was a terrible, destructive, tragic war. It is the bloodiest conflict in American History and while there were many reasons that it was fought, the principle reason was slavery. The election of a president, Abraham Lincoln, who at the very least had abolitionist tendencies was too much for many Southerners to handle, so some slave states began to secede BEFORE LINCOLN EVEN TOOK OFFICE.

This wasn’t about state’s rights v. federalism. It was the fear that Lincoln would abolish slavery and ruin the Southern cotton economy that motivated the Confederacy. So don’t equate Malcolm Reynolds to some Confederate soldier. Malcolm Reynolds would have been appalled at the motivations of the South.

If the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, why did many Southern states pass Jim Crow laws that wouldn’t be overturned for almost 100 years?

Come on, how could I not end this article without getting into a tiny bit of the historical background of Serenity? After all, when I take my Browncoat off, I am a history teacher.

 

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