Better Days

by Alan Rapp on May 28, 2008

in Comics

“Why do I open my mouth?”
“Sir, we’re none of us sure.”

The story begins, as is often the case with this crew, with a heist which doesn’t go exactly according to plan.  The team captures a new prototype attack droid (by the skin of their teeth) only to find their contact unable to pay for the merchandise.  However, he knows where the crew can get their hands on some buried cash.  Of course this sounds like another wild goose chase, but without other options the crew agrees – only to get their biggest surprise yet.

This new three-issue mini-series, written by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews, takes place after the events of Serenity: Those Left Behind and before the events of the film Serenity.  With Whedon on board the characters actions and words ring true, even when the looks sometimes does not.

The art by Will Conrad is a bit spotty for me as he captures some of the characters well (Jayne, Zoe, Inara) but seems to completely miss on others (Shepherd Book, Wash).  Still, I like the look and feel of the action on the page, even if the characters themselves aren’t always quite up to snuff.

Most of issue #2 deals with the crew of Serenity sitting around and discussing how they will spend their new found wealth.  This gives us scenes of Captain Jane Cobb, a humorous moment from Shepherd Book, visions of family and safety from both Simon and Wash, Kaylee’s (not so secret) true desires, and an unique vision from River.

Everything is a bit off-kilter here as the crew finally has scored big.  It’s as if Serenity’s crew has taken a trip to Bizarro world.  They even end up playing the heroes by stopping a robbery – “That was different.  Being the good guys.  At least, with people noticing.”

Behind all the fun however is the danger lurking behind one of Inara’s clients and his mission to rid the ‘verse of Dust Devils, and an ending which promises the final issue of the series won’t be quite so cheery.

Although filled with quite a few fun moments, this issue spins its wheels a bit by not moving the story foward until the final few pages, leaving quite a bit to be resolved in the series’ final issue.

The final issue of the series starts with Malcolm Reynolds getting the snot beaten out of him and a revelation that Mal isn’t the one the mercenary is after – it’s Zoe, who of course can’t let Mal take the fall for her and mounts her own rescue plan.

The storyline for this final issue is a bit too reminiscent of “War Stories,” though not as good.  The big battle is fine, though nothing that memorable, and the three-page epilogue suggesting a possible romantic relationship between Inara and Simon, and Mal’s possible compliance of the loss of the crew’s newfound wealth, are raced through without the time both deserve.  Just when interesting story points are introduced the short three-issue mini-series comes to an end.

Though more than a little disappointing there are a few nice moments including a tender yet humorous moment between Wash and Zoe before the big battle, Shepherd Book showing off his non-priest-like skills, and Wash getting in the last word.  Is it all it should be?  Not really, but at least Serenity got one more mission.

I would have rather seen events after the film rather than another short prequel tale, but as long as Serenity continues to fly I guess I’l take what I can get.  The art has made an nice improvement from issue #1 to issue #2 and Conrad seems to get more comvortable with the characters with each issue.  Sadly that’s not true of the story which seems to meander more and more with each issue and then end just as things are getting interesting.  In the end I’m giving the short series a passing grade, but this short trip through the ‘verse should have been better.

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