Last month, we told you about the return of Firefly — in comic book form — to the known verse, but we didn’t know when the book would touch down, or who would be piloting it. Thanks to the deluge of info coming out of this weekend’s New York Comic Con, now we do, but beyond a continuation of Firefly‘s legacy, is this project the perfect back-up plan to guard against the defection of Star Wars?
Dark Horse Comics has announced that Zach Whedon has been tabbed to take the reigns as writer on the (as of now) six issue series, teaming up with Buffy Season 8 & 9 artist Georges Jeanty. This isn’t just a case of nepotism, though. Zach, like Whedon’s other, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. co-showrunning brother Jed, is an accomplished writer in his own right, scripting three episodes of Fringe, co-creating Dr. Horrible, and writing Terminator and Firefly comics (co-writing The Shepherd’s Tale) previously.
In an interview with Nerdist, Whedon talked about building on the existing story, brother Joss’ involvement (it doesn’t sound like he’s heavily involved, at all), the abandonment of the once planned Inara deathly illness, and the absence — in this new series — of both the Blue Sun corporation, and more crushingly, Hoban Washburne (so, that gaping chest wound is insurmountable, but Phil Coulson’s can be healed with a band-aid?) — who, according to Whedon, will not really appear in flashbacks.
Here’s Whedon on the absence of Wash:
“I called it that (Serenity: Leaves on the Wind) because I felt like it was a way to honor Wash and the effect his death had on the crew. They are still reeling from that event in many ways, and beyond that they are drifting a bit, pushed all over the verse by forces out of their control.”
Whedon also indicates that there won’t be many hi-jinks in the new book as the crew deals with the aftermath of the events that occurred at the end of Serenity, the cinematic follow-up to the Firefly TV series — namely, their outing of the Alliance’s wrong doing and the origin of the Reavers.
Here’s the synopsis for the book:
“As the series begins, Mal and the crew are recouping from their recent strike against the sinister interplanetary government, The Alliance, in which they exposed government agencies as those responsible for the creation of the Reavers — the scourge of the universe. With River Tam in the co-pilot chair and a very pregnant Zoe reeling from the death of her husband, Wash, Mal is finding himself and his ship in greater danger than ever.”
So, can this work?
That depends on your perspective, but Dark Horse and Whedon don’t seem to be charting a course that goes right through the fan service sweet spot.
It would have been so much easier and more certainly successful if they had, drenching this thing with Wash flashbacks, given us a familiar and unresolved villain like Blue Sun, and gone more toward the familiar tone of the show, allowing Browncoats to be greasy chinned, fat, and happy from their fast food meal. But in putting the crew on the run, with a series of fractures running right through them, Whedon flies closer to where the show would have likely gone had the dear and fluffy lord answered all of our prayers and delivered a new series unto us after the film — and that makes them mighty. It also makes me more interested in where this is going — assuming it goes beyond these first six issues, though the possibility of this becoming a monthly series flies in the face of Dark Horse’s previous views on the idea.
When I spoke to Dark Horse editor Scott Allie two years ago at New York Comic Con I asked him about making a monthly Firefly comic, and he told me:
“Not a monthly title. We don’t have any interest. It’d be great to do commercially, but creatively that’s not where we’re headed.”
So, why the change of heart?
Two things have happened since I spoke with Allie: the Firefly tenth anniversary celebration generated a lot of buzz and interest in the brand’s beautiful corpse, and Disney (owners of Marvel Comics and all of their fiefdom) bought Star Wars, prompting fears that Dark Horse could lose their Star Wars license to Marvel (the initial home of Star Wars comics).
Back in December, there was a rumor that the transfer was set in stone, but since then, Dark Horse has launched two high profile Star Wars projects — Brian Wood’s Star Wars film continuation and The Star Wars, an adaptation of George Lucas’ original concept — with little news on the future of the license.
When asked about the possibility of Marvel re-absorbing Star Wars by EW in April, though, Dark Horse President Mike Richardson said:
“We have it for the foreseeable future, though, so we’re just going about business as usual. It is what it is. Look, from day-one we always knew it was a possibility that someday we might not have the license. We’re prepared for it. We have other franchises to move into that space, but we got involved with publishing in part because we loved Star Wars and so sure it’ll be disappointing on a business level, but probably more disappointing on a personal level.”
Is Firefly one of those franchises and did the potentially looming need for something to fill the Star Wars void help push past any concerns, bringing this project into life? Maybe yes, maybe Star Wars has nothing to do with the re-birth of Firefly — we may never know, but it could be an interesting prologue to the next chapter in the long ignored Firefly saga.
Serenity: Leaves on the Wind hits comic shop shelves on January 29th.