Firefly #3 Makes You Question Who The Bad Guys Really Are

by James Ferguson

Mal and Zoe have been branded war criminals and the Unificators are hot on their tail. The crew of the Serenity pulls a fast one to buy them some time, but is it enough to keep their captain and first mate from imprisonment? Do they even want to keep them safe after learning what they did during the war?

There’s a saying that history is written by the winners. In the case of Firefly, we only know the background of the characters from their own perspectives. Mal and Zoe seem like good people and we’ve come to know and love them over the course of the TV series and now this comic book. There are some skeletons in their closet and they’re not particularly proud of some of the things in their past. This comes to light in some great interactions among the crew as they try to come to grips with the truth.

One of the best examples of this is how Kaylee reacts to Mal and Zoe as she helps them escape. The Unificators are seconds behind them so they’ve got to move fast to steal a truck and make a break for it. This means they have to ignore a fight that’s broken out nearby where a seemingly innocent man could be beaten to death. Artist Dan McDaid captures the look of shock and innocence on Kaylee’s face as she looks back on the violence while her friends and crewmates walk by without looking back.

This is a major moment for these characters that really tests the limits of their relationship with one another. You can imagine the thoughts that must be racing through Kaylee’s head because she looks up to Mal and Zoe. Imagine finding out your hero is heartless. That’s a tough pill to swallow. Of course, there’s a reason for all this, but it’s not immediately clear.

This is where writer Greg Pak excels. I was already pulled into this comic because it’s based on a TV show that I love. Pak elevates this past the nostalgia factor to a riveting character study. It tests what you know about good and evil and the stereotypes associated with each. Mal’s a good guy, but he’s no Clark Kent. He’s more of an anti-hero and for the first time, we’re getting a glimpse into the darkness of his past.

It’s fun to see how this outlaw sentimentality extends to the rest of the crew. They all operate in this grey area that creates an interesting moral compass. It definitely keeps you on your toes because you’re never quite sure how they’re going to react to a situation. This is especially true of Jayne, who could turn his back on everyone at a moment’s notice.

Although Mal and Zoe are making their escape, nothing about it is easy. Zoe is injured and losing blood fast. Letterer Jim Campbell shows how weakened she is with a faded font and wavy word balloons. This gives her a faint feeling, like she could just fade away any second. It contrasts well with the intensity of the scene.

The Unificator that’s tracking them looks like an unstoppable space age warrior. She’s clad all in black with only her face sticking out of her armor. One eye is covered in a dark eye patch. Colorist Marcelo Costa makes her look like an intimidating merchant of death, riding forward to bring terror and bloodshed down upon her targets. She looks almost devoid of life, driven forward by her quest for justice and vengeance.

We get a glimpse into why this is a personal mission for her. As with some previous flashbacks, Costa drowns these images in a violent red, amplifying the terror of these moments of war. It’s a great effect that’s used sparingly and has a huge impact.

Firefly has taken us on some twists and turns so far and it has been a wild ride with every turn of the page. This comic has not missed a beat. It’s just as compelling as the TV show ever was and we’re able to spend a lot more time with these characters, digging into what makes them tick. While it’s a must read for any Browncoats out there, it’s also easily accessible to anyone who wants to read a great sci-fi western.

Firefly #3 from Boom! Studios is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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