The Many Reflections Of Mr. Jayne Cobb: Reviewing ‘All-New Firefly’ #4
by Scott Redmond
All-New Firefly continues to be a showcase for how something that the audience knows can be easily expanded upon and grown without losing those familiar aspects. 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.
Working within the boundaries of an established world is the type of work that can be done in a multitude of ways. Many times that can mean just following the status quo and not rocking the boat so that the toys can be put back into the toy box exactly as they were for whoever works on them next. Another, more fulfilling, way to go about it is to embrace the characters and the world by seeking to find ways to naturally grow and explore them in ways that leave the toy box that much richer for future creators.
That second option is very much what we’re getting with All-New Firefly.
Even before this book began there was evidence of that second mindset in play because elements from the previous incarnation of the series had carried over such as Kaylee as Serenity’s captain as well as new characters like Chang-Benitez. Writer David M. Booher took the baton and kept on running with it, returning the Serenity crew to some semblance of their usual (doing crimes but also having hearts of a goldish variety) while narrowing in on ways to keep moving them forward. One of the ripest avenues to pursue is that of one Jayne Cobb who has always been seen as the hired muscle of the crew and a foil to the captain.
With just four issues that has all changed greatly, and there are a whole new bit of hidden layers to Jayne. Seeing his past to kick off issues, understanding his issues with religion, and then what his family is like explains so much about the character in some ways and in other ways brings some sympathy that was somewhat lacking at times 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.
Seeing him try to help Simon in saving one of the monks’ lives and then coming up with the plan for how to humanely deal with the tax collectors was really nice. Booher took a character that I was very blasé about and made me genuinely care for him, then drop my jaw at the final revelation and how that will bring even more change and potential chaos. Love every moment of this.
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. Pérez captures that roughness well when bringing this world to life while making sure to capture all the emotions/facial expressions with the utmost care. This is a world that can be felt when we look upon it and feels fully lived in.
There is other work put into details at times, but also the knowledge of when to pull back on too deep of background details to just let the figures and the moment speak for themselves. A panel with a more neutral background and a sharp focus on a character in the moment of their speaking or action or whatever is very powerful at times. The more barren parts of the world they happen to be on help in that respect as it gives plenty of room for more of those panels.
Pops of brighter colors can be found, but Segala and Martinelli bring a lot of toned-down more Earthy feeling qualities with their coloring work. Matching that rough quality of this universe gives lots of great little shadows that can be found scattered all around. Just as I mentioned with the last issue, the nighttime scenes of this book feel so authentic as the darkness is heavy but still visible with pops of light, which makes it feel real.
A perfect example of the blend of darkness and light would be the pages with the funeral for the monk where the room is bathed in darkness save for the colorful flowers surrounding him and the beautiful light that is shining through the bright stained-glass windows. We see all of the crew standing in a line at this moment, bathed in this light as flowers and bits of light swirl around above them all, leaving them at a halfway point between light and darkness. A perfect visual representation of this crew at their core.
This personification of the crew and the world continues into the lettering as well, as Jim Campbell captures personalities and tone wonderfully. There are moments of heavier dialogue at points that he makes sure they all flow so well and match the given tone of the scene and the characters. While making sure to hit the exact right volume level too for much of it, making changes to the font so that we know when characters are being louder or softer in the moment. It makes sure that we never have to guess what the characters sound like in this moment which is always a great thing.
All-New Firefly #4 is now available.