Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #4 is a better paced comic than the previous issue in the miniseries. Writer Zack Whedon manages to include the planning and execution of Mal and the Operative’s plan to rescue River’s fellow Academy members into twenty-four pages of story while also filling the comic with the character interactions that made Firefly such an endearing television show. The Operative’s involvement in Mal’s rescue plan isn’t met with silence. Each crew member of Serenity gets a little conversation about him, and artist Georges Jeanty does a good job showing the various characters’ reactions and feelings about his arrival. His art is detailed in Serenity #4 with little touches that evoke the show Firefly or foreshadow ominous things for our big damn heroes. However, I still had trouble differentiating between some of the characters, like Kaylee and River. The Operative and Jubal Early also look nearly identical. Despite these problems with the figures, Serenity #4 puts this miniseries back on course as Whedon continues to show his command of these characters’ voices and throws in some plot twists in the last third of the comic that make the story even more entertaining.
Serenity #4 has a good balance between action, exposition, and character development. Jubal Early gets treated as an after-thought, but his ending is poetic and a great bookend to his first appearance in “Objects in Space”. Whedon and Jeanty work together to give depth to these beloved characters. From Jayne asking Mal if he can kill the Operative after the “mission” is over to a look at Zoe’s stay in the Alliance prison camp, and less verbose scenes, like the opening page of the comic and a tender embrace between Mal and Inara, Whedon and Jeanty make sure the majority of characters get a moment to shine and show how they have changed or stayed the same since the Serenity film. Whedon also retains much of Firefly‘s dry sense of humor giving Mal a good share of sarcastic wisecracks. He also has finally made this Serenity story his own while borrowing some elements of the best Firefly stories, like Simon breaking River out of the Academy.
Georges Jeanty continues to do pretty good work on the Serenity miniseries, and this issue is no exception. His strengths have been detailed work on the interior and exterior of the ship, facial expressions, and action scenes. Jeanty is dedicated to replicating the ship from the show while moving the story of Serenity and her crew. For example, Wash’s dinosaurs are still on the console, but Mal is flying the ship. This shows that Mal still remembers and honors Wash, but he is more concerned with other things, like rescuing Zoe via a raid on the Academy. With the help of inker Karl Story, Jeanty makes sure the characters’ reactions correspond to Whedon’s dialogue. The scene where Mal bids farewell to Inara is a great example of this synergy of storytelling. Laura Martin continues to add much needed atmosphere to the setting of Serenity. Her use of rusty colors captures the essence of the Outer Planets, and she applies a more washed out version of this palette to Zoe’s desert prison. Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #4 is a well-constructed comic book that moves the plot of the miniseries forward in a big way while not neglecting Serenity and her well-beloved crew.