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Review: Firefly #2

Firefly #2

Moral ambiguity abounds in Firefly #2, and there is also shooting, religious satire, Shepherd Book wisdom, and tender conversations between Zoe and Wash in the franchise’s sophomore outing under new licensee BOOM! Studios. Writer Greg Pak continues to nail the voices of the cult favorite characters while artist Dan McDaid and colorist Marcelo Costa for for mood over keeping their character models just like the actor’s likenesses. Costa’s work especially shines in the flashbacks as he, Pak, and McDaid continue to unpack Zoe and Mal’s past without giving the whole game away.

Unlike Dark Horse’s Serenity comics, which acted as a continuation of the 2005 film, Firefly #2 is set before the movie and has the feel of a hypothetical season 2 of the series. This means that Wash and Shepherd Book are alive, well, and stealing scenes although sadly River Tam is relegated to spouting “crazy” things. Pak’s main focus is on Zoe and Mal and their activity in the war between the Independents and the Alliance, which has gotten them declared war criminals by the Unificators.

Pak and McDaid don’t shy away from the horrors of war as Mal has a dark flashback when a member of a pilgrim caravan that the crew of Serenity are protecting is shot in the head. The violence in Firefly #2 isn’t stylish, but dirty, chaotic like the used future setting of the show. During the couple of setpieces in the issue, it is difficult to follow who is targeting who, but this adds to the feeling of uncertainty during the fight. The action sequence also reveals Zoe’s darkness as she threatens a group of bandits with her “reputation” as a war criminal. The shadows around her face and gun are a nice touch from McDaid and Costa, and in his plot, Pak starts to separate Zoe and Mal from the other crew members leading up to more reveals about their actions in the war and how it affects them today.

Even though Firefly #2 is mostly a straightforward space western in the vein of the show it’s based on, Greg Pak injects some satirical elements into the story. For example, when it seems like he and Dan McDaid are setting up a villagers with pitchforks gag of the crew of Serenity’s clients, the pilgrims, leaving them because Mal and Zoe are war criminals, they celebrate that fact. I guess sanctity of life wasn’t under one of their tenets.

I’ve mentioned it earlier, but Dan McDaid and Marcelo Costa’s art is a huge selling point of Firefly #2 and the series in general. It has a rough beauty and really sings when characters converse with each other like Simon trying to get hints from Shepherd Book about Mal and Zoe’s past while being blissfully unaware of Book’s own past, or any time Wash and Zoe interact. McDaid doesn’t just use talking head grid for these sequence, but switches it up like using a diagonal layout for the conversation between Shepherd Book and Simon.

With its attention to the rhythms of how its characters speak, at first, Firefly #2 might seem nostalgic. However, Greg Pak, Dan McDaid, and Marcelo Costa actually start to craft a narrative casting a deep shadow on the characters we’ve quoted, admired, and dressed up like for over a decade. It strikes a nice balance between having its own story and being a prequel.

Story: Greg Pak Art: Dan McDaid
Colors: Marcelo Costa Letters: Jim Campbell
Story: 8.6 Art 7.5 Overall: 8.2 Verdict: Buy

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review