REVIEW: Serenity: Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews and Will Conrad

REVIEW SUMMARY: Reads like a mini-episode of Firefly in shiny graphic novel form.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Mal and his crew take on a dangerous job and are unknowingly tracked by Blue Glove operatives.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: The heist story line; good artwork; nice-to-have extras.

CONS: The Blue Gloves plot was an (obviously) unresolved lead-in to Serenity.

BOTTOM LINE: This felt like a “lost episode” of Firefly.



Serenity: Those Left Behind is the 2007 graphic novel compendium of the three-issue Dark Horse comic series released in 2005. The story serves as a bridge between the Firefly television series and the Serenity film and sees Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his crew, as usual, trying to eke out a living on the Rim, away from prying Alliance eyes. A new job brings danger (also as usual) but also garners the attention of the blue-gloved government operatives looking for River Tam and her Brother Simon.

Immediately noticeable about this graphic novel is that it feels like Firefly, from its spot-on character dialogue, the familiar world building (as hurried as it may be in the graphic novel format), and the plot (some of which leverages the storylines from the film). A few familiar faces make appearances along the way, one of which was a happy surprise. The cover art was done by different artists than the interior illustrations, and they usually offered better renderings of the actors, but overall, Will Conrad’s artwork was good and a fine complement to Joss Whedon’s and Brett Matthews’ words and story

There are two story threads: the heist and the Blue Gloves. The heist was 100% Firefly and could easily have been an episode. The Blue Gloves storyline was bare and obviously a lead-in to the film. From a perspective of promoting Serenity, this makes sense to a certain degree. But one would hope for a completely self-contained story with a definite beginning, middle and ending.

Rounding out the volume are two pieces of shiny extras. First, is an introduction by Nathan Fillian Fillion, the actor who played Mal, who professes his strong childhood desire to be a superhero and the chance to finally play one on screen. Second is Whedon’s pre-production memo “A Brief History of the Universe, Circa 2516 A.D.” which serves as a universe/character backgrounder and a forum for additional production artwork.

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