Firefly’s main story takes a break as a much needed and far more engaging character-focused issue is born, and showcases what can be good about this series at times. Another art change on the series brings some really interesting work that has some really cool tricks and bold colors. Truly a glimpse of what this book could be regularly if it narrowed its cast and its focus greatly.
Anyone that has read the last few months of Firefly reviews here is familiar with the point made that this book suffers greatly at times when the cast is too large but soars when doing smaller character beats. The last issue had a bit of both as there were strong moments centered around River Tam, followed by some rougher full cast type moments.
This issue ends up being one of the better ones because it leaves all the ‘present day’ storyline behind to focus on a handful of characters and really two in particular.
Those characters are the late Sheppard Book and one of the newer young characters Stev, who came from the Haven community that Book was helping care for before his death in the Serenity film. These smaller issues with a tight focus really showcase the stronger work that Greg Pak is known for. Much like the recent Malcolm Reynolds-focused issue (that would be #27), this one is a much simpler story that really allows more room for the characters and the story to breathe and grow.
With a plague spreading through Haven and one of the members on the run with the medical kit, Book and Stev along with Inara and another newer character Lank head out to deal with this. It’s an issue that speaks heavily to the idea of not giving up and finding the strength to keep going despite the fact that the universe is going to keep taking from us and there will be times where things won’t go the way we hope.
It’s simple and easy and resonates, especially in the times we find ourselves currently. While it might feel out of place right in the middle of the ongoing arc, it also focuses on how the characters that the Serenity crew thought were left behind also ended up on the Earth That Was. As someone coming in a bit late to this series, having a bit of focus on the new characters is a nice change of pace as well.
There is once again another art change for the series as Jahnoy Lindsay steps in to illustrate the whole issue, both pencils, and colors. Lindsay has a style that is very similar in some ways to those that have come before on this book, which makes it flow a bit better with all these art changes. Unlike the last issue, this one comes back to a better place where it’s going for the idea of these characters rather than trying to 100% replicate something close to the actual actors. Book and Inara look close enough to their real-life counterparts that even without the dialogue telling who they are, it’s clear who they are through their clothing and just the character feelings radiating off them.
Lindsay does some really interesting work with panel alignment and does this really neat trick for differentiating the past and the present pages. While there are some minor changes to the coloring style, that also comes from the fact that the two worlds for each time are vastly different looking, it’s the borders and space around the panels that give it away. The present-day has and uses the white space for borders while the past uses black for the borders and spacing.
In regard to the mentioned coloring work of Lindsay, it’s very vibrant and bright and brings a lot of life to everything that is happening on the pages. Especially the landscapes of the two worlds that the story features, just making them pop off the page in an interesting way. It’s a nice contrast to the somewhat darker tone of some of the issue content.
Jim Campbell always does really great with lettering, quite a master, bringing even more life to the book as the dialogue takes on a personality. There is emphasis dropped through bold words but also in changing the shape of the bubbles and the size and type of font for quieter whisper-like moments or later in the book when Inara is hurt. Dropping some red borders around an exclamation style bubble, and then the SFX that stand out and have their own varied personalities matching whatever the action is they belong to.
Firefly #32 is now on sale in print and digitally from Boom Studios.