Friday, June 4, 2010

Does this Suck: Serenity: Float Out

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first installment of "Does this Suck"; a portion of the blog in which I will analyze a comic of questionable value and decide whether or not it's worth reading. For the first column, we will be establishing this week's release, Serenity: Float Out.

First, the backstory. For those of you who don't know, Joss Whedon is god. Or at least a prophet. Joss the Boss has an amazing body of work under his belt, including the popular TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the internet film Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and a very successful run on Astonishing X-Men. However, my favorite is probably Firefly. Firefly is a science-fiction series that follows the exploits of the crew of Serenity, a smuggler spaceship in the distant future. While it was brilliantly written with vibrant and unique characters, it was poorly marketed and cancelled after 14 episodes were produced, only 11 making it to air (With the pilot being shown last). However, it left behind a rabid fanbase, who begged the Fox network to bring it back. Instead, we got a true closer to the series, the film Serenity.

Serenity was, tragically, not a box-office hit, but was still beloved by the fans and is one of my favorite films of all time. The film is notable for killing off two of the nine major characters: Shepherd Derrial Book, a preacher with a mysterious past, and Hoban Washburn, the ship's humorous but often wise pilot. And it's these two characters who get the tie-in comics; Boook will get a miniseries titled "A Shepherd's Tale" in the fall, while Wash recieved Float Out. Float Out was the first comic published in the Serenity universe to take place after the film, and was to be a send-off to Wash. Unfortunately, it disappointed, and here's why.

The story revolves around three people named Trey, Leland, and Tagg, who are christening a firefly-class ship named after Wash. Apparently, they all knew him and trade stories about their experiences. This is the first misstep of the comic: We have no idea who these characters are, why they're getting a ship together, or why we should give a kcuf about them. They are dull, bickering pointlessly about what kind of ship they should have bought, and only get interesting once we get to the point in the comic when we realize they're supposed to be interesting. When do we realize that? Halfway through, when it's abundantly clear that none of the crew of Serenity will be appearing.

This is the second misstep of the book: Not using the crew. Firefly was popular because of it's characters. Because of Mal. Because of Jayne. Because of Kaylee. Because of River. Hell, even Simon, for all his whining and overprotectiveness, was more interesting than any of the losers we see in this comic. We have no context as to why Trey, Leland, and Tagg matter at all and i'd much rather hear what the crew has to say about Wash than what three strangers do.

The next blunder comes in the artwork: It's really unpleasant to look at. Patric Reynolds draws spaceships and stations just fine, but his people all look weird. It's a mean, line-heavy style, reminding me a lot of a low-grade Alex Maleev. I don't like Maleev's style on it's own, so reading this book is actually difficult.

However, the book is not merit. One other member of the crew actually does attend this funeral/christening: Zoe, Wash's widow. Zoe is the only one who looks nice in this book, and actually has some nice things to say. The final page reveal with her is wonderful and really makes me hope that they continue with these stories, even if it's in comic form. And, like I said earlier, once you get into it the stories are genuinely interesting and hilight Wash's best qualities and help define the character.

And now for the big question: Does this suck? The answer: No, it does not suck. But sure as hell is disappointing. In a comic based off character driven series, it's a real let-down to only see two of the characters actually appear (i'm including Wash because, hey, it's his funeral). The art is unpleasant, we have no ties to the narrators, and the whole set-up is just weird.

Thanks for reading, friends. See you next time!

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