Rather than have two of our reviewers battle to the death for the right to review the second issue of Dark Horse’s new Serenity series, we decided to compromise and let them both take a shot at it. And, as you can see, their opinions would up being pretty darn similar. Take a look.
If there’s a single thing that makes Leaves on the Wind great, it’s that title. I’ll readily admit that I immediately fell in love with Firefly and Serenity the first time I laid eyes on ‘em – its characters, its setting, its heart – and the whole leaf on the wind thing always tolls a sombre bell.
As Dave alluded to in our Group review of #1, this does mean that it veers dangerously close to over-produced fan-fiction territory – though in my humble opinion, it manages to not stumble over into the fawning implicit in that particular criticism; instead, it winds up feeling rather authentic, and that’s no bad thing.
The character art is still problematic, despite vast improvements over the previous issue. It’s the inconsistency in the faces that’s the rub there – particularly in the small, less detailed panels. Characters shift from looking spot on, to looking like some other character from some other series (I swear I saw Zatanna rather than Inara at one point) to just looking generic with little to no warning.
It’s a shame, because the scenery and ships are still terrific – detailed, evocative, and capturing the frontier vibe that perpetuate the show rather elegantly. There’s some nice wee character details too – such as River adopting Wash’s distinctive pilot’s outfit from the film, and the design of the various sidearms that get to be pulled this issue.
Thankfully, the strength of the writing shines out through the artistic inconsistencies – Zak Whedon continuing to capture the characters’ voices and mannerisms to a tee. In particular, he deftly handles the welcome return of Jayne Cobb to the mix. As has been said, he’s not quite Joss, but then who is?
The plot developments are solid, if still in the early stages – this issue more or less marks the closing of the first act, ending on a cliffhanger that sees the threads converge for what promises to be a thriller of a third issue.
All-in-all, if you’re already a fan, this will win you over – as it begins to feel more complete, its authenticity is falling into place. If you’re not a fan, go out, buy the DVDs, become a fan, then come back and read this. But either way, sure as I know anything, I know this – I can’t wait for the next issue.
There are few people who can ride the snake as well as Captain Mal Reynolds. But even then, things are getting a bit stressful. With a new born child on the ship, a seriously ill second in command and an entire Alliance after him, he’s fast running out of hiding places. Forgot to mention that the oddest bounty hunter in the ‘verse, Jubal Early, has a score to settle. Maybe not a score per say as not even god knows what drives this maniac. Perhaps, it’s just one of the few things that sound right to him.
Space is beautiful and the art is more than up to the challenge. Gas clouds, asteroids and distant stars are all over the blackness but the isolating emptiness is also captured. The vessels and tech look smart and, panel to panel, the perspective has been chosen well. The characters themselves could look better, particularly when it comes to expression. They can look blank and dead from time to time.
The script makes up for any disappointment. Make no mistake, these are the same guys from the show. The speech is packed with colloquialisms made familiar by the show. The book also has its own tricks as demonstrated by an excellent cliff hanger that wouldn’t be possible on a TV show.
The characterisation is compelling with a sadness lingering over the ship since they showed the Alliance as the evil empire they really are. With few friends left alive and nowhere to turn, Mal will need to raise his game but we’re in good hands.