The Hero Of Canton: Reviewing ‘All-New Firefly: Big Damn Finale’ #1

by Scott Redmond


‘All-New Firefly: Big Damn Finale’ lives every bit up to its name as the concluding issue of this eleven-part character study tugs at all the heartstrings and brings a monumental change for the Serenity crew. What this creative team, and everyone that has been part of it, has accomplished in this series is truly amazing, turning a very flat character into the emotional crux of their story. A perfect entry into the Firefly world that takes what was built and moves it ten steps forward.


Every so often there are comic book runs that stand above because they pull off something that seems truly impossible. Transforming that which we knew into something that is deeper or more developed than anyone thought possible, changing how we view that world or character forever. All-New Firefly is one hundred percent one of those series. 

Honestly, when this series was first announced, sliding in to replace the just-ending multi-year Firefly series, I wasn’t sure what we were getting. In that first issue, it felt like a good solid return to a very classic Firefly-type story. The crew of outlaws with hearts that have a gold tinge to them swoop in to help some monks while hiding out. Seems pretty simple. 

Then David M. Booher pulled the proverbial rug out as the series proved to be something far more. In one season of the fan-favorite television series as well as the movie and previous comics, Jayne Cobb was a pretty one to maybe two-dimensional character. Carried a big gun, was loud, was the muscle of the team, and was willing to betray others for money (thus how he came to be part of the Serenity crew). Booher saw that, said it’s not good enough, and spent the entirety of the ten previous issues and this finale turning that on its head. 

Sure Jayne is still crude and such but buried under all that muscle and hardheadedness was a heart. Just like the Grinch at the end of the classic story, the heart of Jayne grew three sizes before the series came to an end. From a long-lost son to a dive into his humble origins all the way to Jayne coming up with solid plans that help others. The moment Jayne realized how bad he was and offered to help Simon with a hurt monk and feeling bad that the monk still died, I knew I was starting to actually like this character. Which made this issue even more powerful. 

If you haven’t actually read the issue, now is the time to turn back and do so. Go ahead, this review will be waiting for you. 

Jayne Cobb, the hero of Canton is dead. While many would think that someone such as he would go out in some overly macho or dumb way, the man went out a hero as he sacrificed for those he loved. As soon as the ship with his son Owen and brother Mattie is stuck with one of those space mines attached, he doesn’t hesitate to spacewalk to save them. The moment that the mine stuck to Jayne and he was drifting away speaking about his life and feelings and it was cutting out, the heartstrings were tugged. 

Truly what Booher was aiming to do here with Jayne, turning the one-dimensional into the three-dimensional that people will care about, is a masterclass not only on how to write a good adaptation of popular media but also on how to handle truly amazing character development. In eleven issues Jayne went from zero to hero, leaving a giant Vera (his beloved gun) sized hole in the cast and crew of the Serenity. In various canonical potential future set stories, from the short-lived Firefly: Brand New Verse or the recent Firefly: Keep Flying one-shot, we always see that Jayne isn’t there with the others and it was easy to assume he died in some bar fight or battle or some other ridiculous way. Booher though leaves us believing that it’s more than possible that no matter the present or potential future, Jayne Cobb is a hero when it counts. 

Everything about this issue is very much a wrapping-up finale with powerful emotional soul-searching moments, and Simona Di Gianfelice, Francesco Segala, and Gloria Martinelli are the right ones to bring that to life. Di Gianfelice has the ability to make even a seemingly naturally static moment of people standing around talking have that powerful kinetic energy, as the facial expressions and body language are on point and there is natural applied movement assigned to panels and pages to make each successive panel speak as it flows right into the next. 

A good portion in the middle, as we lose Jayne, takes place in space. Not only is space gorgeous here, but there is a very weightless floating sort of feeling to the artwork, which is hard to fully explain. It feels authentic to at least what one assumes space is like based on what we’ve seen or heard from others. It feels dark and heavy, adding to the vastness that we know of space, dotted with the light of stars so far away. Despite being and feeling cold and unending, with an unforgiving nature, it also feels powerful and safe, and hopeful. This helps to really make the moments where we know Jayne is moving toward death feel sad, but also powerful because of what he became and what he meant to the people that are there in space with him. 

While there are overall visual differences to the variety of locations we visit here, making every single planet or area feel wholly unique is what Segala and Martinelli do with the colors. We’re given different color palettes for different areas so that Requiem looks distinct from what we saw of Earth that Was the last issue just like every part of Serenity from the bridge to the rooms to the shuttle, and beyond all has its own unique feeling. Inara’s shuttle has a reddish hue to it compared to the cooler greens and browns of the bridge or the blue feeling in the monastery or a more centralized set of colors from what we glimpse of Jayne’s space. 

Part of wrapping things up comes with a lot of conversations from and between the characters, and Jim Campbell makes it flow around the pages perfectly. We can feel and hear the emotion in the words, to match the facial expressions that are on display. For example on the page with Jayne’s final monologue, all the visuals of his sad friends sell the moment but the way that the words are presented and scattered around gives that push to really take the feeling over the top. All of the artwork together from visuals to letters, helps us the reader feel like we’re right there in the moment with the characters overwhelmed by the emotions too. 

Truly what everyone involved from this issue all the way back to the beginning has created is beyond words. No matter what some out there say, one can create moving powerful forward-moving things with characters that belong to a corporate entity. Firefly might not have made it past one season but the impact of that show resonates to this day, and this series shows just what can be done not only with the franchise but the characters themselves. There are no ‘bad’ characters, just characters that are waiting to truly be explored and guided by the right hands. 

All-New Firefly: Big Damn Finale #1 is now available from BOOM! Studios

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