Comic Review: Serenity: Leaves on the Wind Part 4 & 5 (Dark Horse)

If you’ve been reading Leaves on the Wind, then you’re already caught up on what is currently going on. Funnily enough, this review is my way of catching up with […]

Serenity 4 Displeasure

If you’ve been reading Leaves on the Wind, then you’re already caught up on what is currently going on. Funnily enough, this review is my way of catching up with somewhere around two months of this series because that’s how far it’s fallen on my priority list since the last installment failed to deliver. Regardless, I’m back and so are Zack Whedon and George Jeanty with Serenity: Leaves on the Wind Vol. 4. And believe it or not, it’s a good thing. After hearing River’s idea, and liberating the Operative from his self-imposed exile, Malcolm and his crew are finally startSerenity 4 Planing to form what some would describe as a plan, and any fan could tell you that a plan is Firefly gold (All that glitters and all that). It’s all the more promising with an inspired conversation complete with the typical irreverence between Jayne and Mal that harkens back to a fair few exchanges from their previous exploits. But this is a drop in the characterization bucket, and while it has been difficult for Zack Whedon to realize the character of Jayne in this medium, it’s his Mal that suffers the most thanks partly to a dull representation from Jeanty and an overall lack of filler plot that could help bring him out of his funk and reignite that oh so indistinguishable charm from a character that has been portrayed by Nathan Fillion. Having said that, the plot itself is good and the heist planning scenes have a lot of natural exposition to be a convincing brainstorming session. Also, though I loved Firefly, Serenity, the comics, etc, etc, I still have to admit that there hasn’t been enough done with Zoe’s character on her own. But for the first time we’re getting a taste of it. It’s very Sci-Fi formulaic to have a super violent, inescapable, prison planet to put a hero on, so it was only a matter of time till we walked right in to this particular cliche.

It’s all just good enough and given enough time, I think it could have been great. But what the story needs is more filler, and it just doesn’t have the space for that. Leaves on the Wind Vol. 4 drags the series back from the brink (kicking and screaming) with a little more characterization, a much better plot, and an exciting conclusion. But it also suffers from the same problems that have plagued this miniseries from the word Go. Character personalities only shine through on occasion, and likable quirks of the characters feel awkward and forced. The plot moves too fast to allow much savoring of the moments in between the big set pieces. Leaves on the Wind Vol. 4 is one of the best of the series, but it still feels like highlights, with the really entertaining moments (the reasons we read) getting buried somewhere in between the panels.

And now let’s move on to Volume 5! *spoilers*

Well, you’ve read all the problems with Volume 4. You might as well keep them in your mind because the are back for Volume 5. Not all of them mind you, but the usual rushed storyline and lack of character motivated moments decided to make a triumphant return. Regardless, The opening scene exhibits a real tone of desperation and tension and it’s conveyed with a sense of momentum, there’s an incredibly convenient plot device, but it does get a more natural explanation thanks to a helpful retracing of the narrative steps back to Vol. 4. This is including a direct scene translation from the TV show. It helps remind us that even though the show and movie were a long time away they still continue their relevance no matter what medium the story moves to. It was a successful reminder that the story is the same.

Serenity 5 Bea

Unfortunately though, the Operative doesn’t get a proper showing (which is a shame for such a great character), the Browncoats scene came and went too fast and wasn’t laid out well enough to maintain gravity in the story, and thanks to a lack of time, (there’s that word again) spent on the New Resistance faction, their massacre just comes off like a flash in the pan. It had no impact and was moved on from so quickly you wouldn’t even know it happened. It just didn’t matter, which is where the story is leading in to their final volume. Not enough time was spent anywhere to have an emotional value, the character moments were awkward and sparse, and every time the story finds somewhere interesting to land, it just rushes off to the next big thing. So far, Leaves on the Wind has told one of the largest scale Firefly stories, but it’s also been the driest. The lead- in to the final volume is confusing, and I can’t honestly say I know where it’s going. But it’s unlikely that they’re going to have the time they need to make it as great as it could be.

-PS

All images courtesy of Dark Horse Comics, all rights reserved.   
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Serenity: Leaves on the Wind-Part 4Serenity: Leaves on the Wind-Part 5

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