Serenity the Serene Comic

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This article is part of a series of spotlight articles on the winners of the  Broken Frontier Awards 2005 .

In a world where comic books are strip-mined by film and television executives for new money making extravaganzas, it’s nice to see a comic do something in reverse. While license properties are hardly new in the comic world, they are rarely any good and are often rather unconvincing marketing ploys.

Not so with Serenity, the successor to TV’s Firefly and antecedent to the feature film Serenity. Penned by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews with art by Will Conrad and Laura Martin, Dark Horse’s Serenity displayed the key ingredients of series in a substantial and entertaining way.

The wit, charm and violence of the show was evident in the comic but the comic was more than just a paper episode because it formed the vital link between the aborted TV series and the feature film. The three issue mini-series was actually responsible for giving fans of the show vital continuity information. This made the film experience richer for those who had read the comics. It also gave the comics an element of importance that other license properties do not have.

As a science fiction story, Serenity has it all: the fantasy of space-flight and intergalactic exploration, the wonder of gizmos and gadgetry and the sweeping social allegory. Serenity deftly comments on the world of today by showing us a possible future which resembles our past. Its action scenes practically explode off the page while the character moments crackle with intensity and authenticity. Let’s not forget how funny Serenity is either - the humour and chemistry of the live actors is miraculously embedded in the page.

While the art for this comic was never the main attraction, Will Conrad fulfils his duties admirably. He does a good likeness of most of the actors most of the time and his figures maintain a consistency throughout. His space and technology scenes are also quite good, adequately replicating the vastness of the setting and the technology involved.

One page in particular sums up the attraction of the Serenity series, movie and comic. It comes early in the first issue and features Mal, Jayne and Zoe surrounded by goons with guns. The crew are ready for action but completely surrounded and outnumbered. Mal, in his customary understatement remarks, “Well now… This is a situation.” This scene typifies the series for me because it seems as if Mal and crew are ever not in a “situation”. Much of the joy or reading or watching Serenity has been to see just how the crew manage to get themselves, above all odds, out of their various situations.

The Serenity comic, although brief, has made a lasting and important contribution to the magic of a truly multimedia continuity.

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