Old Friends: Matthews talks "Serenity: Better Days"

Fri, March 7th, 2008 at 12:00am PST

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Emmett Furey, Staff Writer

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"Serenity: Better Days #1 on sale next week

It's been more than two years since fans have been treated to an original story set in the "Firefly" universe, but Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews are about to prove that no power in the 'verse can stop Serenity and her crew in the upcoming Dark Horse miniseries, "Serenity: Better Days." CBR News caught up with co-writer Matthews to get the details.

"Better Days" is not Matthews' first foray into the "Firefly" 'verse. The writer also penned the bestselling "Serenity: Those Left Behind," a three-issue miniseries bridging the gap between the "Firefly" television series and the "Serenity" feature film. When "Firefly's" vaunted creator Joss Whedon originally asked Matthews to come onboard for the project, it was an offer the writer couldn't refuse. "'Those Left Behind' actually started life as an anime project set to release with 'Serenity,' and when that door closed we just told the story as a comic," Matthews said. "It was also very successful, so getting 'Better Days' to happen wasn't exactly a hard sell."

"Serenity: Better Days #1 on sale next week
Matthews said that Dark Horse editor Scott Allie has been an ardent supporter of the franchise from Day One. "It's really about having a story worth telling, this time designed from the ground up to be a comic," Matthews said. "Luckily, the 'verse is rich enough there isn't a shortage of those."

"Better Days" is set before the events of "Serenity." "'Those Left Behind' preceded the film very directly because that's exactly what it was designed to do," Matthews said. "'Better Days' is earlier, more in the heart and status quo -- in as much as there even is one -- of the [television] series."

Matthews didn't want to give away too much about the plot of "Better Days," but the writer did go so far as to say it's about what happens when a job goes right for the crew. "Or wrong, but not in the way they're used to," Matthews clarified. "And why that's maybe harder for them and all the complications it brings."

As to whether Mal Reynolds and crew have a bright future ahead of them in comics, Matthews said that was up to Joss Whedon. "I'm sure Dark Horse would love nothing more, but what shape it takes is strictly Joss' call, as it should be," Matthews said. The writer would be decidedly hesitant to spin any "Firefly" yarns set after the events in "Serenity." "Selfishly, I'd like to see Joss direct that story with his actors one day, in whatever form. I want to see the future Joss has planned on a big screen. Or a smaller one. Or firing off the chips we'll all have implanted in our brains one day."

"Serenity: Better Days #1 on sale next week
As far as Matthews is concerned, when the TV series was cancelled, fans were robbed of countless "Firefly" stories that might have been. "To me, the joy of these books is getting to see the stories that were taken away or weren't able to be told," Matthews said. "To spend time within the bounds of that and with old friends, just as pretty as they were back then. I guess I wouldn't be as quick to leave it behind. And that's pretty much how everyone that worked on and loved that show feels."

Matthews attests that the Dark Horse "Serenity" comics exist in the same continuity as "Firefly" and the "Serenity" film. "I don't see these projects as an expanded universe, it's the same 'verse, one consistent and canonical vision," Matthews said. As such, there are plans in place to clear up some of the secrets that were set up in the series that never had the opportunity to bear fruit. Does this means fans will finally learn the truth about Shepherd Book's mysterious past? "I'd tell you," Matthews teased, "but Book would have to kill you. But I do believe there are plans."

"Serenity: Better Days #1 on sale next week
For "Better Days," Matthews is reunited with artist Will Conrad, who also penciled "Those Left Behind," and the writer couldn't be happier about it. "Will's great, and his work on 'Better Days' is really a cut above the last," Matthews said. "A great deal of back-and-forth hasn't really been required. He gets it and does the actors justice, which is especially important when it comes to all things 'Firefly'/'Serenity.'"

Matthews has been blown away by the cover art produced by artist Adam Hughes. "Adam's captured a thing with each character that feels really specific and true to them," Matthews said. "A look, a quirk, a relationship, an irony. Likenesses really are thankless work in the comics world."

The first issue of "Serenity: Better Days" hits stands on March 12.

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