At This Rate, Mal May Not Survive Long Enough To See Trial In Firefly #5

by James Ferguson

Boss Moon has finally got her hands on Mal and she’s taking him to stand trial as a war criminal. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew of the Serenity are trying to fix their ship so they can get airborne and save their captain. Both are pretty dire situations and there’s no easy way out for either.

The dynamic between Mal and Moon is absolutely riveting. Here you have two people who fought on opposing sides of the Unification War. We’re familiar with Mal and his quirky personality, so we’re suffering from some cognitive dissonance as we attempt to reconcile his alleged war crimes. Meanwhile, Boss Moon has been shown as a hard warrior, yet we get a peek at some vulnerable moments here, showing just how lonely she is.

These two make for an unlikely pair and they might kill each other before Mal can get his day in court. They argue constantly and not just because of their opposing views. They cannot stand each other. From Mal’s perspective, Moon represents some of the darkest moments of his life. She is a constant reminder of the horrible things he did during the war and he has trouble looking at her as a result.

Artist Dan McDaid captures these mixed emotions very well. You can see this inner turmoil play out on Mal’s face. Similarly, we see the human side of Moon, putting her in a sympathetic light. Yes, she’s still tough as nails, but now we can relate to her a bit, especially with all she’s lost.

Moon’s ship mirrors her cold demeanor. Colorist Marcelo Costa creates a sterile environment here, devoid of any decorations or joy. It’s full of bland metal and the windows show the darkness of space. Similarly, Moon’s armor is like a moving shadow. This comes together in a way that only reinforces her overall personality.

Back on Bethlehem, the crew is not doing much better. The interactions between them are always fun to read and writer Greg Pak delivers some top notch dialogue. It has as many quips and witty gags as the TV show with the same fast pace. They all realize how absurd their lives have been as of late and just kind of go with it.

One interesting and hilarious change is the introduction of Leonard, a bandit they picked up along the way. He’s taken a liking to Kaylee, much to the dismay of Simon. It’s like everyone but Simon realizes what’s going on and how he missed his chance. I love how everyone gets a chance to put a verbal jab in on this, like an ongoing joke that never gets old.

McDaid weaves some sound effects into the artwork in the early pages of Firefly #5. I’m a big fan of this effect. In this case, the word “Blam” is shown over and over across the page, swirling in the dust kicked up by the crew’s cart. These huge letters surround the characters, reinforcing the feeling of the frantic battle they’re caught in. It creates a claustrophobic feeling.

There are a few moments where the crew looks like it could split up. Factions are forming and arguments rise. Letterer Jim Campbell zooms in with some light grey, barely visible words to show the whispers between some of them.

If you thought the crew of Serenity was going to catch a break, you’re reading the wrong comic. Their lives are full of chaos and they may never get a chance to rest. Through it all, they have each other. This odd assortment of personalities may clash sometimes, but they’ll see this through, even if they have to survive more fire fights to do it. Firefly delivers on so many levels, with great artwork, witty dialogue, compelling characters, and awesome action.

Firefly #5 from Boom! Studios is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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