‘All-New Firefly’ returns the intrepid crew of misfits back to their classic roots of being somewhere firmly between the worlds of outlaws and heroes out in the frontiers of space, while also moving the world and the characters forward in new ways. Every page captures that science fiction western energy perfectly, as the spotlight turns towards the mostly unexplored figure that is Jayne.
There are many things that end up drawing people into becoming fans of any given story. It can be whatever the concept is behind the story (the hook or genre or focus), but more often than not it is characters that keep us in a story or a world. Firefly was one of those series that had a number of memorable characters with intriguing personalities or backstories that people could connect to.
Out of all of them, one that was hardly explored and seemed the ‘simplest’ was the mercenary of the group, Jayne Cobb. If anyone had told me years ago that I would be interested in a Jayne Cobb story (especially with what the actor behind the character has turned out to be over time), I never would have believed them.
Yet, thanks to All-New Firefly, here we are.
With just two issues, David M. Booher has piqued the interest in regard to Jayne by offering up small flashbacks that showcase the character’s past. It’s a past that was left mostly unexplored in the show compared to other characters. The most we saw was his betrayal of one employer to join Mal’s crew, his mother sending him a letter and cunning hat, and his recounting of a past heist that led to a town being named after him. Within these flashbacks, we already are given a pretty clear thread towards a reason for why Jayne out of all the crew seemed the most perturbed about religion yet was also one of the chummiest with Shepard Book.
Telling stories about likable 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. 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.
Jordi 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.
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.
Coloring and letters both are elements of comics that need to be in the wider conversations far more often, most of the time neither are mentioned when new titles are launched, or titles are reviewed. Jim Campbell does a tremendous job with lettering, bringing even more energy to the pages. Because of the way it’s often treated, it might not seem like it but lettering is an art form, as the right little flourishes or changes or moves can make or break whether the dialogue actually feels like it’s full of personality, tone, volume, and fits the character. Some make it seem pretty easy to do, and Campbell is most assuredly one of those.
All-New Firefly #2 is now on sale in print and digitally from BOOM! Studios.