Serenity: Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon

8/10 A worthy addition to any Firefly addicts collection.

The ragtag crew of Serenity take on a scavenger mission with the hopes of earning enough dough to disappear for a while. Only too late do they realize the whole gig is orchestrated by an old enemy eager remake their acquaintance with the help of some covert-operatives known only as the Blue Gloves...

Serenity: Those Left Behind is the first in a series of comics by Joss Whedon that bridge the gap, somewhat, between the last episode of the Firefly TV series and the movie Serenity, and flesh out a bit of the back story for some of our favourite characters. You are probably going to get the most out of this if you are a big fan of the Firefly universe, but for those unlucky few who are unfamiliar with Firefly, there is still plenty on offer in this book.

Those Left Behind tells begins with the Serenity crew down on their luck having just been muscled out of another job. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so they turn to the unreliable criminal boss Badger who offers them a run at salvaging the long forgotten ruins of a battle from the Unification War. The plotting here is really good and allowed me slip right back into Firefly mode as I followed the crew on another wild and wacky adventure. I think the format might have been a bit too short for the story Whedon wanted to tell, and that much of the Whedon-esque complexity, and the ending, suffered because of the short length.

The characters here are perfect, especially their dialogue, which is something fans have come to expect from Whedon. I think the book was too generous with giving all the characters even amounts of screen time. I know that's more a plotting issue than a character issue, but given the short length of these comics, I think it would have been nice to maybe focus on just Mal and Zoe for this book, and shift the focus to other characters in later books. That said, I can probably excuse the decision to give everyone equal screen time because it's the first book in the series, an introduction to the characters in comic format.

One thing I really loved in this book was the artwork from Will Conrad, not only for his interpretation of the character's looks, but also the way he utilised each frame for maximum effect. His drawing, in my opinion, is some of the best around on the comic scene at the moment, and it really shines through here for the whole book. My edition of Those Left Behind also contained concept art for the movie, a short history written by Whedon, a great introduction written by Nathan Fillion, and portraits drawn by a number of other artists, which I think added positively to the overall package.

Serenity: Those Left Behind is a worthy addition to any Firefly addict's collection of material. It tells a solid story with all the characters we love, it is drawn and coloured brilliantly, and it has plenty of additional content for those who can't get enough.

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