Overview

Serenity: Float Out

Review

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Serenity: Float Out

Credits

  • Words: Patton Oswalt
  • Art: Patric Reynolds
  • Colors: Dave Stewart
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Jun 3, 2010

One of the toughest challenges facing any creative team working on a licensed comic property is broadening the fan base outside of the core audience. This obstacle becomes a lot more difficult to surmount when said creative team is working within the confines of a forty page one-shot, such as Serenity: Float Out.

One of the benefits of comics’ monthly schedule is the potential to increase your readership ten to twelve times a year. Often, creators working on licensed properties assume the core audience has already followed their favorite franchise to the comic shops. Publishers, for their part, seem content to rake in the dollars, knowing they’ll likely turn a profit thanks to the property’s existing fans.

Admittedly, there are a number of other factors that come into play when publishing a licensed comic property, such as the amount of true creative freedom enjoyed by the writer and artists, the supplemental nature of licensed works to their parent franchise, and the strategic targeting of the existing fans to ensure a return on the investment. Publishers can hardly be faulted for betting on a sure thing.

In Serenity: Float Out, Patton Oswalt and Patric Reynolds succeed in complementing Joss Whedon’s sci-fi franchise very nicely with three charming tales about one of its most popular characters, Firefly pilot Hoban “Wash” Washburne. Unfortunately, the one-shot format doesn’t allow them the pages to do much more than present a handful of well-crafted, anecdotal tales.

Oswalt’s most obvious strength as a writer is his dialogue and characterization. Drawing on his background as a comedian and actor, Oswalt has an intuitive ear for realistic dialogue. The conversations between the three main characters, Trey, Tagg, and Leland, crackle with snappy banter and unfold with a natural rhythm. Each character is fully realized and we discover just as much about them as we do Wash, through their stories and their interactions with one another.

Although Oswalt drops a few names and terms throughout the comic that only fans with prior exposure to Serenity would understand, he does keep it to a minimum, spending more time building his characters than worrying about what went on before. He understands his audience is composed of die-hards but doesn’t coddle them with too many in jokes or obscure references. For the purposes of his story, it’s enough to know Reavers are the bad guys; their backstory doesn’t really matter.

Patric Reynolds’ art is impressive throughout the book, infusing Oswalt’s tribute to Wash with life and emotion. He works in a more realistic style that evokes the gritty, down-to-earth flavor of Whedon’s original universe. His characters are distinctive in appearance and body language, while his facial expressions feel lively and organic, without an obvious over-reliance on photo reference. Equally at home drawing talking heads as he is building huge epic starship chases, Reynolds brings a well-developed complete skill set to the book, allowing him to fully depict the richness and scope of the Serenity franchise.

Serenity: Float Out
is without a doubt a comic geared towards those who have already explored Whedon’s universe. The final panel alone is sure to set rabidly loyal fans into a frenzy of rumormongering anticipation.

Nevertheless, Oswalt and Reynolds manage to present a bittersweet collection of Wash stories that also does a fair job of welcoming new fans to the property. The neophytes may not know who Wash was or why he deserves a tribute from three fellow space rogues but by the end of book, they’ll have a better understanding of his impact on those he called his friends and family.

Hopefully, it’ll be enough to entice them to stay for a spell and discover how truly shiny Whedon’s western-influenced sci-fi universe really is.

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