The Life And Times Of Jayne Cobb: Reviewing ‘All-New Firefly’ Vol 1 HC

by Scott Redmond


‘All-New Firefly’ kicks off a whole new series of adventures while returning the series to most of its western science-fiction caper-style roots, shining a light on previously unexplored areas.  There is such love and care on all fronts from this creative team, as they easily navigate a welcome status quo that is leading to new bigger things and giving characters we only thought we knew the room to shine like never before. Every page captures that science fiction western energy perfectly, as the spotlight turns towards the mostly unexplored figure that is Jayne.


One would be hard-pressed to describe the version of Jayne Cobb that appeared on the small (and big) screen back when Firefly was on the air over twenty years ago, as anything more than one-dimensional for the most part. Big brute mercenary whose loyalty was in question, made dumb decisions, was crude, liked weapons, and was the butt of many jokes. Sure, he had fans, but he wasn’t much of a fleshed-out character.

That’s not the case anymore thanks to All-New Firefly.

Back in 2018, BOOM! Studios got the rights to publish Firefly comics and they kicked off a lengthy series run that came to an end at the start of 2022. Following such a series, led by Greg Pak and a massive bevy of artists over its run, is potentially a pretty tall order. Especially launching a new series based upon a short-lived beloved television series that has been off the air for almost two decades now.

Writer David M. Booher picks up the baton easily, jumping right in, and not only handles these characters quite well (hitting on their voices pretty spot-on) and in picking up what was left by previous writer Pak, but also at choosing to go an unexpected direction. That direction would be the one that centers itself on the gun-happy would stab you in the back for a bit of coin mercenary known as Jayne Cobb.

Through most of the previous stories and even on the show, Jayne was the antagonistic loud-mouthed member of the crew that was a wild card more often than not. Outside of a mention of family and the episode where it was found out he was seen as a folk hero of a town (which makes a tragic return here by way of reference) there wasn’t a lot explored with Jayne. That changes big time in this series as we really begin to dig into the backstory and transformation of a young Jayne Cobb.

Telling stories about likeable characters is easy but taking inherently unlikeable, or at least jerky characters, and fleshing them out is the more challenging route to take. It’s a challenge that Booher is very much nailing so far. Seeing his past through flashbacks and exploring his issues with religion and what his family is like, explains so much about the character in some ways and in other ways brings some sympathy that was sorely lacking in the past. Not only do we see this past but that past now comes roaring back into the present, just as we’re starting to see a side of Jayne where he’s willing to change and do more because he’s tired of being seen as the angry fool of the crew.

The story around these flashbacks is some classic Firefly with the crew trying to be “big damn heroes” in taking down corrupt self-declared tax collectors to save a religious order. Classic can be great, because it’s like slipping into something familiar and comfortable, and it helps to reground the title and crew after their bigger old Earth adventures in the last series. Returning the Serenity crew to some semblance of their usual doing crimes while also having hearts of a goldish variety of adventures, while narrowing in on ways to keep moving them forward makes the title live up to its all-new moniker.

Everything about the ‘verse that Firefly takes place in is rough and tough but has semblances of brightness to it when one looks close enough (the Serenity crew helping with that) which is why Jodi Pérez and Francesco Segala, with color assistance from Gloria Martinelli, are perfect for this series. None of them are newcomers to this universe as Pérez worked on an issue of the previous series and Segala and Martinelli worked on numerous issues of that series.

Pérez has an art style that is pretty befitting of this crew. It’s detailed and has a lot of smoothness to it while also being pretty rough around the edges in the best way possible. A lot of times people point at panels where the focus might be off and faces aren’t clear, but it’s not a flaw of artwork like this. There are great close-ups and facial shots full of expression, and there are others where things aren’t as clear because the focus isn’t on one or another at that moment. It keeps the eyes moving to the bits that are the focus of the moment, not needing to fill in the background with every single bit of detail there could be. As one would expect there are some brutal fight-type moments, and Perez captures the action very well to the point that it feels like they could just walk off the page any moment.

Not only does Pérez’s artwork capture the gritty and rough feeling of this universe, but the emotional/facial expression work is also top-notch. Many of the moments where I felt very bad for Jayne happened because the sadness and hurt were 100% clear upon his face and features in those moments.

At times with these books that are adaptations of movies or TV shows, there can be the notion of trying to fully recapture the actor’s faces as much as possible for the characters. Truthfully, I much prefer what those like Pérez do with the characters. Each of them looks like one would expect their characters to look, without worrying about making them dead ringers for the actors.

Color-wise, what Francesco Segala, with assistance from Gloria Martinelli, is doing just looks so good. There is an almost watercolor-like feeling to these colors, especially in the flashbacks. Theirs is a more muted sort of color palate in many ways, with colors being brighter but not that really popping bright that comes with superheroes or some other comics. It fits perfectly since Firefly is both science fiction and western at the same time, both genres have a nature of being more toned down visually in many ways. Within the flashbacks, the colors are pulled back even more with a sort of filter covering them to give them that memory but also in the past look compared to the present scenes.

Parts of this story take place at night, with the confrontation and action elements happening in the dark wide-open areas with a campfire and the moonlight being mostly the only sources of light. It feels heavy and dark but still visible, and it feels authentic thanks to the great color work of Segala and Martinelli.

On the lettering side, Jim Campbell is also a veteran of the Firefly realm having worked on the previous series as well. Campbell is one of those masters of lettering and it shows in all the stuff he does, as it not only flows around smoothly and naturally through the panels/pages but has a very tangible energy to it that captures the right tone and personality of all the characters. All the right little changes are brought in to showcase the volume/tone of any given bit of dialogue so that the whispers or shouts or even a really loud laugh are clear to the reader. Artwork often captures that with the aforementioned facial expressions work but the bolds or bigger fonts or other changes that lettering uses in those moments just make it 100% clear and you hear it in your head as you read.

It makes it all feel more real and powerful in many respects. Just like the big bold SFX that are colorful and right there at the moment, tied tightly to the action they are meant to represent.

All-New Firefly: The Gospel According To Jayne Vol 1 HC is now available from BOOM! Studios.

%d bloggers like this: