Human Sacrifices, Rival Gangs, And Unificators In Firefly #4

by James Ferguson

The crew of the Serenity is used to getting into sticky situations. Half of them are about to be human sacrifices to Ba’akalal on the planet Bethlehem. The other half are under fire from Unificators. Things have been better.

Although everyone is in the crosshairs, there’s still some humor to be had. Writer Greg Pak captures that perfect balance between comedy and action that Firefly was known for in its short-lived run on TV. A great example of this is when the cultists are deciding who to kill first. They need to start with the smallest sinner and go up to the biggest. This leads to an argument among the crew as they stall for time, but Jayne is too thick-headed to understand so they turn the tides on him and try to get him killed first.
There’s some fun, snappy dialogue throughout this entire sequence. Pak keeps it moving at a quick pace, but allows for ample room for each gag to sink in. Letterer Jim Campbell guides us through all of this, providing context to the facial expressions on display. This is doubly important as Wash is in contact with Mal on the other side of the planet. That means there are times where we’re hearing what’s happening, but not seeing it.

It’s hard to say which group has it harder in Firefly #4. Of the two sides, Mal’s presents a little more drama. He’s forced to join forces with the Unificators that want to bring him in as a war criminal if it means saving his crew. This is a tough decision, but that’s the kind of thing you have to do when you’re the captain. There is not an ounce of doubt on his face. Artist Dan McDaid shows Mal dripping with confidence and swagger as he faces certain doom.
McDaid breaks up the page in some of the more action-heavy sequences, using smaller panels to focus on specific details. This adds to the intensity of these scenes and gives them a blockbuster feeling, like you’re getting even more story in a small amount of space.

Colorist Marcelo Costa adds to this with a fiery sky. The sun is setting, which creates a beautiful landscape. Unfortunately, they don’t get to enjoy it as the sacrifice is set to begin when the sun goes down. This makes for a race against time as each new obstacle pops up.
Costa returns to a great effect that was seen in a previous issue too. During the heated battle, one of the Unificators is struck down in front of Mal and Boss Moon. They’ve both seen the horrors of war first hand and this attack instantly sends them back to those tragic moments. We see a shot of them in their younger days that’s shaded in a violent red. This gets the feeling of trauma across so very well.

Firefly #4 closes out the first arc of this new series in a fitting and bombastic fashion. It plays out not like a single episode of the TV show, but as a longer, flowing narrative with many moving parts. This greatly expands on the mythos in a way that’s sure to please long time fans, while also bringing in new ones.  Browncoats have a lot to cheer for here.
Firefly #4 from Boom! Studios is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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