The pieces begin to somewhat come together for this story arc, offering some intriguing possibilities that are still mired by somewhat static feeling characters trapped in their most iconic forms and some somewhat cliche story beats. A large slew of perfectly rendered action scenes really helps the book and continues to allow the art team to really show off everything they are capable of providing. There is potential in the series that just hasn’t quite been reached yet.
Things haven’t fully really gelled when it comes to the last few issues of Firefly’s latest Earth-centric story arc, following a strong showing to kick off the arc with issue #27. This issue sees a bit of a turnaround, mostly because of a heavy dose of action, but still is struggling to really find its voice.
In the last issue review, this series was compared to a cover song, in the sense that it’s very familiar as something you know but is very noticeably off and very different from what came before (not to say covers are inherently good or bad). With previous story arcs, Greg Pak was firmly playing within the Firefly playground that was between the end of the one-season series and the movie that ended it all, Serenity. Playing within those boundaries gave the series a somewhat easier time with what was happening and how the voices were.
Now that it’s moved beyond that, and has to find its own way, things are coming off a bit tougher. This is no dig at Pak’s writing ability because he’s a really good writer who has some really great hits to his name. Picking up licensed work like this, especially a cult classic that didn’t last very long, comes with a lot of pressures and a lot of challenges.
Taking the crew back to the Earth long-abandoned was a really great move, but some of the tropes that the humans left behind fall into play in the shadows of some of the worst depictions of marginalized groups in media history, and the characters themselves just feel off. It’s like the characters are playing at being the versions we know but just placed into a story not fully their own. There are flashes of things but still, so far it just feels off.
What helps a lot here is that the action kicks off and the plot surges forward some, though not fully in the best way (the deal struck with the native Earth tribe is very cliché and sure to not go great). Simona Di Gianfelice and Francsco Segala have done some stellar work on the book so far but they really get to cut loose again here with these action scenes. There is a lot of energy showcased here as the crew leaps into the fight against their attackers from the end of the last issue.
There are some really stunning shots of Serenity entering the battle and the danger that some of the characters come upon in the fight, and even the arrival of the tribe that the crew wronged previously is really dynamic and pretty sweet.
Segala really highlights the danger by adding a sort of red/yellow filter over things, fitting since it’s at night and there are blasts and fires everywhere.
Jim Campbell continues to make the large amount of dialogue work and not overwhelm any of the pages while providing those sweet sweet and perfectly used and timed SFX. It can be tempting to add the SFX to every blast and battle across the issue, but Campbell wisely makes sure to use them in the most impactful spots to not desensitize the reader to their impact.
Overall the issue showcases some bits that show that there are some good ideas and intentions behind the series, even if it’s not always hitting the mark. Also, it’s becoming clear that while it looked like this book and spinoff series Firefly: Brand New ‘Verse were going to be connected more, the differences in how Earth is talked about seem to point to them being alternate takes on the same universe perhaps. Time will tell.
Firefly #30 is now on sale in print and digitally from BOOM! Studios.