‘Firefly: 20th Anniversary Special’ celebrates two decades since the science fiction western mashup premiered, by tapping into the core of the characters and what made this series so popular and able to endure the test of time even after just one season. By bridging both the present and the future, this special gives two wholly separate yet interconnected tales that are fun but also full of important messages. Firefly as a franchise or concept is in good hands over at BOOM! Studios.
Throughout life, many moments or things can remind someone of the passage of time and that we’re all getting older, beyond the effects on our physical shell. One of those things is when suddenly something you liked within the entertainment sphere is celebrating a major milestone double-digit anniversary.
Yes, as of this year, we have reached the twentieth anniversary of Firefly‘s first debuting on small screens.
The past few years BOOM! Studios have been doing a fantastic job of returning to the universe of Firefly and expanding those characters and that world in so many ways. To celebrate twenty years, they brought together a duo of creative teams to tell a story that bridges the past and the future of the Firefly franchise.
Shepard Book was one of the most mysterious of the characters within Firefly, a man of peace and religion that had a very shady and likely violent past. Much of it was left unexplored since the show ended very soon, and here we get to explore a bit more without fully learning just who Book was before he met the Serenity crew.
First Jorge Corona, Jordi Perez, Francesco Segala, Gloria Martinelli, and Jim Campbell craft a tale that is peak Firefly, and could be plopped down anywhere in the crew’s journey before the ill-fated trip that awaited them in the feature film Serenity. Corona captures the character’s personalities perfectly as they quip back and forth and deal with the danger at hand in their own ways. Jayne being worried that he is on this planet with some of the others, while the ship is in orbit, because they are finally going to execute him and how the others play with that is some good dark adjacent sort of humor.
Perez does a good job of capturing the emotion and details and the inherent roughness that should be there with this series about characters in a rough world. Segala and Martinelli bring a variety of color tones to the page that is befitting of the various places, but all share a sort of washed out almost watercolor-like quality that enhances everything. I really like how the planet is bright and warm but various parts of the ships are cooler while the gorgeous space shot in some of the panels mixes the two qualities together so well.
Book convincing a living ship, that he helped create but the Alliance corrupted, that destruction is not the way but watching the chaos of creation is better is some delicious science fiction mixed with religion but also just common life stuff to mix into the science fiction western. Especially since it comes back into play within the second story.
That second story actually sees a return to the future set Serenity crew that we were first introduced to in last year’s Firefly: Brand New Verse miniseries. Josh Lee Gordon returns to write the next chapter of adventures for Captain Emma Washburne and her crew with colorist Lucia Di Giammarino and letterer Campbell returning as well, and Nicola Izzo joins them on art.
This is a group of characters that I really enjoyed in their first outing, and Gordon expands them here by showcasing some of Salo’s family (including his cousin who is a Shepard and very important to the overall story) as well as the new dynamic in play of Emma as Captain and how Zoe must readjust. I like how the two stories are connected with the ship that Book “saved” in the first story having ended up in a dire position and doing whatever it could to survive over the years.
This potential future is not inherently fully connected to the ‘present day’ stories happening in the recently ended Firefly series or the currently running All-New Firefly, but connections like this work as it doesn’t nail them down as completely connected. Instead, this also presents a potential future for what could happen to that ship once Book gave it the ability to question and learn and seek answers out amongst the stars.
Izzo’s artwork has much of that rough quality as well alongside the deep detail, while also having a much smoother or slick sort of appearance. Those pages with the twisted ship remains before the black hole is some really awesome-looking work, really going all in. Di Giammarino’s color palate is so colorful, that no two panels look fully alike, bringing in just powerful splashes of color all over the place, with a bit of slickness of its own. There is darkness to be found in the story matter and space and the world around them, but also so much color and light that makes everything unique and feel lived in.
Across both stories Campbell does what he does best in lettering, making all the dialogue and captions flow across the page in a smooth and delicate way. Nothing is overwhelming or takes away from the moment, sliding in just where it needs to be full of all the voice and personality of each character. Compared to the SFX which are just as smooth and intricate as the other lettering but are far louder and in your face when they need to be, begging for attention to help us ‘hear’ what is happening in these panels.
Firefly: 20th Anniversary Special #1 is now available.