Tuesday, December 24, 2013

[BOOK REVIEW] Serenity: Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews

Title:  Serenity:  Those Left Behind

Authors:  Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews

Artist:  Will Conrad

Genre: Science Fiction / Action / Adventure / Comedy

Year Published: 2006

Year Read: 2013

Series:  Serenity #1

Publisher: Dark Horse Books

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 13+ (Fight Scenes)


Now, I will be honest here.  Even though I have seen many of Joss Whedon’s works in the past, I did not know anything about the infamous cancelled TV series “Firefly” up until recently.  What is even more surprising about this is that I had the movie “Serenity” for many years before I watched “Firefly” and I did not know that “Serenity” was a continuation of “Firefly” until I saw the movie again recently and realized that these were the same characters that I saw in “Firefly!”  So, after watching “Firefly” and “Serenity,” I decided to check out the comic books that were based off of this series and I stumbled upon “Serenity: Those Left Behind” which I realized was a missing story that bridge the gap between the TV series “Firefly” and the movie “Serenity” (which is a pretty clever way to get more stories told with this franchise)!

What is this story about?

After a treasure heist goes wrong, the crew of Serenity (Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds, Zoe and Wash Washburne, Inara Serra, River and Simon Tam, Kaylee Frye, Shepherd Book and Jayne Cobb) all try to find another way to earn money.  The opportunity comes up when a shifty man named Badger comes up and tells Mal that there is hidden treasure at the location where the Battle of Sturges had taken place and the Serenity crew decided to go to the location to find the treasure.  Meanwhile, Mal’s old nemesis Agent Dobson wants vengeance against Mal for shooting his eye out and goes after the Serenity Crew. At the same time, the two men who came from the Alliance Government try to find the Serenity Crew to take River Tam away.

What I loved about this story:

Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews’ writing: Actually, Brett Matthews wrote the script for this story and Joss Whedon created the idea for this story!  Anyway, the writing in this comic book was just fantastic!  I loved the fact that Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews were able to tell a prequel story for “Serenity” in order to bridge the gap between “Firefly” and “Serenity” for anyone who was wondering what events had taken place after the “Firefly” TV series got cancelled.  I loved the way that Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews focused on all of the characters and developed them even further than how they were developed in the TV series.  I was literally trying to figure out what direction the characters will go after “Firefly” got cancelled and I was more interested in the directions that Mal and River took in this story since I always found them to be the most interesting characters in this series!  I also enjoyed the various threats that the Serenity crew had to go up against in this story, especially when they ended up confronting the two men from the Alliance and Mal’s old nemesis, Agent Dobson.  It really helped close up any plot lines that centered on these characters and allowed us to move on to the story set up in the movie “Serenity.”

Will Conrad’s artwork:  Will Conrad’s artwork was simply amazing as all of the characters were perfect copies of the actors who played these characters in “Firefly!”  I loved the way that Will Conrad put so much detail into the characters’ designs as they look truly realistic and gorgeous and it made me feel like I was actually watching another episode of the TV series since the characters looked exactly as they were from the TV series!   I also loved the various artwork covers of each character that was done by a different artist as it brings so much creativity to this book. All of the cover designs were fantastic and each artist brought in so much life to this story, such as John Cassaday’s artwork for Mal, Joe Quesada and Danny Miki’s artwork for Zoe, Tim Bradstreet’s artwork for Shepherd Book, Brian Hitch’s artwork for Jayne, JG Jones’ artwork for Inara, Jo Chen’s artwork for Kaylee, Leinil Yu’s artwork for Simon, Josh Middleton’s artwork for River and Sean Phillips’ artwork for Wash.

What made me feel uncomfortable about this story:

The reason why I took off half a star was because I felt that this story would be too difficult for anyone who has not seen the “Firefly” TV series to really grasp.  Since this story takes place after the TV series “Firefly,” it seems like a requirement to actually look at the “Firefly” TV series to actually understand what this story and the characters are really about.  Also, I felt that this story was a bit too short in explaining about the events that happened before “Serenity” took place and I kind of wished that they explained more about how the characters’ lives are changing after “Firefly” got cancelled and how these events also affect the Alliance.  It just feels like this is the type of story that needs to be lengthy due to it tying up the loose ends between “Firefly” and “Serenity.”

Final Thoughts:

Overall, “Serenity: Those Left Behind” is a fantastic follow up story for “Firefly” and a great prequel for “Serenity” and anyone who is a huge fan of the “Firefly” series will definitely enjoy this comic book! 

* 2009 Hugo Award Nominee for Best Graphic Story

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