The Family That We Make: Reviewing ‘Firefly: Keep Flying’ #1
by Scott Redmond
‘Firefly: Keep Flying’ #1 is a heartfelt fun adventure starring the fan-favorite crew of thieves with hearts of gold, that takes a deep look at River Tam and the idea of family and memory in a truly moving way. Gorgeous whimsical energy courses through every page as we go someplace we’ve never gone before with this crew. More stories like this starring these characters are more than welcome.
What even is memory? While we have scientific explanations and biological facts at hand, there have been many musings about what makes up memory and why some stay and others fade into the ether. When one had their brain sliced into and changed by an evil government entity, that question becomes even more complicated as River Tam has painfully learned.
Truth be told, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one-shot issue that was set to take place far down the Firefly timeline. It seemed interesting at first with Mal’s big 60th birthday and everyone coming back together for a heist gone wrong in their old age, but then it took a whole new spin. River’s explanation of why she hasn’t responded to a proposal from her girlfriend and why she feared being back with the crew in a dangerous spot just hits so hard. Her psychic gifts cause her memories to be sort of an amalgam of bits she’s taken from others over the years rather than just her own and the fear that if they are gone she’ll begin to lose them and not know herself is terrifying.
Jeff Jensen though makes sure that alongside that painful scary emotional blow there is a lot of heart and love on the page, as these characters prove why they are an enduring awesome found family. It’s also clear that Jensen has a love for this franchise, pulling from the previous Firefly: Brand New ‘Verse established future characters and diving into these characters we know more and more.
The fact that the heist is only a secondary plot device, where the identity of and the fate of the sheep owner is inconsequential is perfect because this story is and always was about River and this found family of rascals with hearts of gold. I’m really enjoying the amount of time that BOOM is letting us spend with this crew and on Serenity, and would not be opposed to more one-shots like this.
Nicola Izzo has a very interesting art style that is detailed and has weight/depth but also has a lot of whimsical fun sort of energy to it. All of the characters are very emotional and have great looks to them, which is close enough in style and feeling to scream that they are these characters while in various cases being not close to depicting the actors that played the characters. Actually, Izzo’s depiction is the furthest away from the actors I’ve seen when it comes to Firefly works and I dig that because it shows taking some creative control of the characters and world without losing anything that we know about it.
Too many adaptations are often very regimented to appear just like what we saw on the screen/elsewhere, so it’s nice to see sometimes an adaptation approaching a place where (like ongoing superhero comics) there can be deviations from the norm.
Francesco Segala and Jim Campbell are both familiar names to anyone that has read various Firefly books in recent times.
Color-wise, Segala brings the same bright but muted sort of tones found in other issues where we get some vivid splashes of color but also a palette that allows each space to have its own feeling and personality. Serenity’s medical room at the start feels blue and cold, clinical, while River’s current home has a much brighter purple lived-in loving feeling to it when we see it. Plenty of shadows and darkness can be found that add weight and depth to everything, including in some of the space shots which are just so gorgeous with the color and even lack of color in some respects.
Adding feeling and personality is what Campbell brings to the table as well with the lettering, where not only emotion but tone and volume and bits of character personality are just popping out of the words. This is done through things like italics and shrunk font that comes up for whispering/quieter moments or big bold words for yelling, but also other little flares thrown in here or there that help set things apart. This is a dialogue-heavy issue, with all that River has to lay out, but it never feels overwhelming or hard to follow. It flows around in an easy-to-follow digestible format with enough energy there to keep it popping along.
Firefly: Keep Flying #1 is now available from BOOM! Studios.