For lack of a better term, Serenity #6 is a comfort food for a Firefly fan. It is full of snarky dialogue, a pack of underdogs saving the day once again, aerial maneuvers, gun battles, and most of all, the crew of Serenity coming together as a family. Zack Whedon continues to have a deft handle on all the main cast members’ voices while also developing the newcomers Bea, the leader of the New Resistance and Iris, who was trained by the Alliance to be an assassin like River. For the most part, Whedon doesn’t put many plot twists in this comic, but opts to cement old relationships between characters. Penciller Georges Jeanty does little things like insert a panel of Mal and Zoe touching hands in the middle of an intense gun battle to give this cluttered battle a human element. He, inker Karl Story, and colorist Laura Martin also scatter the comic with leaf motifs and end up making the comic earn the title Serenity: Leaves on the Wind.
I don’t know what someone who has never watched Firefly or Serenity would think of Serenity #6, but I found it quite enjoyable as a Browncoat. Whedon has deep understanding of what makes Serenity’s characters tick as evidenced by an early scene where Bea talks to Mal about her father fighting with him in at the Battle of Serenity Valley. He says, “The war’s over”, but Jeanty’s pencils reveal that Mal is still a soldier through and through. Serenity #6 also gives Bea some much needed character moments as she is an integral part of the climactic action scene, and readers finally get to see her motivation for founding the New Resistance. Whedon also continues to flex his dialogue muscles coming up with some particularly snarky lines for Simon as well as continuing to relish in Jayne’s oafish courage. (Jeanty gives him an equally cartoonish gun.) However, the first half of the plot was very predictable, and there wasn’t much tension until the last few pages. Whedon also ended up reusing plot devices from Firefly episodes to tie up some of the loose ends. This conservatism is better than the exposition heavy weirdness of Buffy Season 8‘s conclusion, but hopefully the next Serenity miniseries will take more risks.
Georges Jeanty did a great job showing the relationships between characters through his art. His continued use of facial close-ups allows characters’ emotions to resonate with readers and gives his figures a real vitality. Jeanty’s figures also look more like the characters from the TV show (with the exception of Simon Tam), and inker Karl Story gives them and the backgrounds definition. Colorist Laura Martin continues to capture the tones of the different settings, such as Serenity‘s interior, Zoe’s prison camp, and the planet Theophrastus. Theophrastus is her best work of the series with mixture of lush green and sunshine captured through her color palette. She even saves a battle scene from being too cluttered and hard to follow by using bright, clean colors for the Alliance guards and brown for Mal’s crew. This ties this skirmish with the bigger conflict against the Alliance.
Despite its mostly predictable plot, Serenity #6 is an entertaining conclusion to the miniseries and is filled with moments that will make any Firefly fan smile. Whedon gives each character, new and old, a little spotlight moment and places the themes of independence as the crew of Serenity as a family at the forefront of the comic. Georges Jeanty continues to nail almost every big emotional beat with his art and shows marked improvement with the character’s likenesses in this issue. And colorist Laura Martin gives each page, character, and setting its own personality from the dark, sterile corridors of an Alliance ship to the exotic clothes in Inara’s wardrobe. As a whole, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind is a solid addition to Joss Whedon’s beloved Firefly and Serenity stories and left me wanting more stories set in this universe, especially with the addition of the new characters and some new mysteries.