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Saturday, March 14, 2009

cover of 'Serenity: Better Days'

An entertaining, if all too brief, escapade with the crew of Serenity. Presumably set sometime during the days of "Firefly," when all the characters we know and love are on board, this story finds the crew pulling off a heist and being the first guinea pigs to come up against a new, sophisticated, automatic anti-theft/crime-prevention device. They do manage to outwit it, and when they go to sell what's left of it, the cache they are sent to retrieve as payment ends up being far more money than they ever expected. So, interspersed with the rest of the story, as they are being chased down by the makers of the anti-crime machine and Mal or Zoe is being tracked down as a "dust devil" terrorist after the war ended, we also get to see the various dreams of how the different crew members would like to spend their share of the money-- sometimes serious, sometimes joking just to get a reaction, and sometimes downright strange..

The artwork is generally gorgeous but I found it a little uneven, because there were a few points where I wasn't quite sure for a moment or two who a particular character was supposed to be-- usually it was a matter of context or not enough detail, and I eventually figured it out from the story or dialogue-- but it made me realize [again] how much you lose, when you go from actors who all give life to their characters with their voice and bearing, in addition to the way they look.

The "dream" sections when the various characters are telling what they'd want to do with the money are all pretty entertaining, and it seems like it probably gave the artists some more interesting things to portray than they might otherwise get to draw in the serenity-verse. River's fantasy, particularly, is quite strange-- but what makes it fit perfectly is Zoe's wry response (I can just hear her saying it) that now her idea is taken.

The other interesting detail is that somehow, by the end of the story, the money has somehow been stolen. The only one who catches on is Inara-- she notices that Mal never shared what he wanted to do with the money, and guesses that having his crew leave him is the last thing he wants. It's well-written and subtle, but quite clear and insightful into Mal, at the same time.

Title:Serenity: Better Days
Author:Joss Whedon; art by Brett Mathews, Will Conrad, and Adam Hughes
Date published:2008
Genre:Science Fiction / Graphic Novel
Number of pages:80


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