The Year of the Horse is off to a great start with the release of Zack Whedon and Georges Jeanty's "Serenity: Leaves on the Wind" #1, marking the beginning of an all-new story following "Firefly" fans' favorite crew. Taking place a few short months after the events of the movie "Serenity," the issue bounces all over the 'verse to display the growing unrest among the Alliance's citizens, just before landing Mal and his crew in a high-stake race to save one of their own. With a superb handling of dialogue and characterization, Whedon pens another "Firefly" story that's sure to wend its way into the hearts of longtime fans, while Jeanty provides some lovely, intricate settings with lacking figure work for their debut issue.
One of "Firefly's" most captivating charms was its ability to spin clichés on their heads; Zack Whedon follows this tradition with an equally charming play on the notion of heroism, saving our big damn heroes' grand first appearance until almost halfway through the issue. Whedon carefully builds the crew's reputation by focusing on both the public and the Alliance's reactions to the Miranda disaster, before he cleverly underscores the disparity between who they really are and who the public thinks they are. In doing so, he simultaneously provides a great platform to quickly and organically recap the events of the movie while presenting the widespread effects of Miranda's revelation. These large-scale protests also manage to capture a vibe not unlike the Occupy Movement and the Edward Snowden information leak, whereas newscaster Stan's words come uncomfortably close to a certain biased news station in his ideologies. This way, Whedon links fictional events back to real ones for an added dimension of relatability.
Likewise, Whedon deftly handles the dialogue between each character. He employs a great deal of wordplay as newscasters Stan and Audrey banter back and forth about the legitimacy of the Miranda broadwave, ultimately implementing an authentic political overtone to the discussion. What's more, Whedon truly captures the essence of established characters like Mal and Kaylee by using their jargon and dialect to its fullest extent without it seeming overbearing. He provides enough of a balance between character moments and humor to keep the story moving quickly, tantalizing fans by building off of moments left hanging at the end of the film. With this mix of characters both new and old, Whedon throws in a fascinating new character who ties it all together in the form of Bea, who -- in the space of only a few pages -- becomes a compelling, passionate, and endearing personality.
When working with characters new to the "Firefly" universe, Jeanty has a style both beautiful and diverse. For all the issue's crowded scenes, no two characters look alike; his figure work is expressive, distinct and lovely, especially when his panels center on a character's face. Additionally, he shines through his attention to sprawling landscapes, keeping small details from the pattern in Serenity's kitchen and cockpit to deep space to busy market places. Unfortunately, however, his work with established characters like Inara and Kaylee is lacking, in that -- beyond their clothing -- they are almost unrecognizable, at least in respect to their actor counterparts. Where Mal and Jayne's characters look spot on, most others look completely different; at times, their proportions seem off, as in several panels where Inara's head seems too big for her body. With characters as beloved as these, such discrepancies can't help but disappoint.
"Serenity: Leaves on the Wind" #1 will leave fans cheering. In its first issue alone, "Firefly's" newest installment is clever, poignant, and funny. Although Jeanty's art bears some room for improvement, he and Whedon are charging full steam ahead in the right direction for this miniseries.