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Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #1 [Review]

serenityleavesonthewind001Script: Zack Whedon
Pencils: Georges Jeanty
Inks: Karl Story
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Michael Heisler
Cover: Dan Dos Santos
Executive Producer: Joss Whedon
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.50

I have to blame a friend for my getting this. Firstly, I’m pretty sure she was aware of this then-upcoming series before I was, and then more recently being my “excuse” to “upgrade” my Firefly/Serenity collection. I also recently re-watched the entire series and movie, wrapping up just a couple weeks ago.

Given that recency, I was impressed with the cover from the start. Dos Santos captures Mal’s face in such a way that there’s no doubt that’s as portrayed by Nathan Fillion. The cover in general looks like a scene straight off the screen.

The interior art threw me off a little bit…there’s something almost too “light” or “bright” about its coloring, and some of the panels’ shots seemed a little more “out there” to me than I’d expect after being used to the visuals of the tv show. Granted, this is a comic book, so that change in visual style needs to be afforded a certain level of “pass” allowing for the difference in medium.

In and of itself, the visuals are good. I wasn’t blown away by anything seeming particularly amazing, but everything fit for the most part. There were a couple panels I had trouble telling who was supposed to be who, but I’m not entirely convinced that wasn’t just my brain refusing to parse ’em out without audible voices to identify the characters.

The story works in general. We pick up some time after the events of the film Serenity, so as the issue progresses the status quo is gradually revealed while leaving some questions (or at least the specifics of how things went down) up in the air.

That this is a comic and not the tv show and yet it’s advancing the same story creates an interesting dynamic of sorts that I haven’t experienced all that often…particularly as the two media aren’t usually directly connected in this way.

I could “hear” the characters’ voices in the dialogue, and given context of the story, the characters themselves seemed authentic to me.

Unfortunately and fortunately at the same time, the comic is a different presentation of the material…lacking the movement and charm of the actors and actresses themselves, their voices, and other things tv and film can do that comics can’t. However, the comic can show things on a grander scale than a tv budget can allow, thus opening the scope of the story that much more.

Unfortunately, as only the first issue of six, this is just a chunk of story for now. Far too short to really be compared to a singular episode of the tv show, yet it seems like there’ll be enough content to this story that the better comparison of the eventual whole would be to that of the film rather than a single episode.

In the current marketplace of primarily $3.99 cover prices, this is “only” $3.50…not as much a bargain as $2.99, but a more reasonable step in pricing than the leap to $3.99.

While you may have plenty of questions of the backstory, this also isn’t a horrible place to jump in fresh…though picking up as it does after the events of the tv show/film you’ll encounter a fair number of “spoilers” should you opt to go back to the source material.

All in all, this is an issue I was looking forward to, made “top of the stack” for my reading priority (even ahead of as-yet unread issues from the past several weeks), and was enjoyable to read.

I’m definitely looking forward to the next issue, and seeing where the characters go!

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Dr. Horrible #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Dr. Horrible

When Captain Hammer foils Dr. Horrible’s plan to blow up parking meters, Horrible must find a way to balance things out to take on his noisy new nemesis.

drhorrible001 Story by: Zack Whedon
Art by: Joelle Jones
Colors by: Dan Jackson
Letters by: Nate Piekos
Cover art by: Kristian Donaldson
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

I’ve been a fan of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog since the first time I saw it with a friend last year. It came across as a great "origin story" of sorts, introducing a number of characters, their relationships, and motivations…especially for Billy himself–what it was that changed him from a fairly cheesy wannabe-villain into a much darker figure able to run with the most evil group of villains known–the Evil League of Evil.

I’d read a really brief "short story" that was done for some online project (MySpace Comics?) featuring the good Doctor and his nemesis, Captain Hammer; it seemed like more of a tease than anything else, and it seemed such a shame that there wasn’t a "real" comic for the character.

Several months ago, I was quite pleased to learn that as part of a series of one-shots Dark Horse was putting out, there would be a Dr. Horrible issue, written by Zack Whedon, that would show some of Billy’s backstory, and things that led to the story we got in the musical.

So of course, there’s all this expectation driving the standard quite high, even before ever holding the issue in my hands. Normally this can be pretty disastrous for a comic, as expectation almost always outweighs actuality by a large margin.

However, this issue measured up quite well. We begin with a scene from Billy’s youth, as he’s bullied by a kid who doesn’t "get" that Billy is smarter than him. The young Billy also sees the fall of a hero to the genius of a scientific mind, and learns from that man’s failings (though he defeated the Hero, he was unable to unite people to his Cause). 20 years later, Billy is feeding explosives into the city’s parking meters–the destruction of which will disrupt funding and bring the government to its knees. This leads to the first meeting between Billy and Captain Hammer, and a cameo of Bad Horse (and the "terrible, death whinny"). There’s a brief interlude as Billy does his laundry, and "meets" Penny, the girl of his dreams who he has yet to connect with. Meanwhile–knowing he can’t match Hammer’s brawn on his own, Billy creates a potion to give him matching strength…but the potion has unintended side-effects…and from here we see the beginnings of the Freeze Ray.

Everything’s here, really…the personalities of Billy and Captain Hammer shine through nicely, the "minor" characters carry their own presence, and the general situations feel like they’d fit well into what we already know in the musical. The primary drawback of this comic is that it lacks audio.

Particularly as this is specifically a one-shot, and a "prequel" of sorts, this is a great piece for fans of Dr. Horrible. The story elements are a particular draw, getting what ought to be "canon" regarding the characters.

At the same time, the art plays a huge role, and Joelle Jones manages to bring a look to the characters that is both its own thing–they look and feel like comic characters–and yet captures a look that evokes the appearance of the actors that played the live-action versions.

All in all, I definitely would recommend this to any fans of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. It may be of some enjoyment to those unfamiliar with the original property, but much of the charm and "in-knowledge" that informs this issue would likely be lost. Then again, if one reads this and goes to the source material, it may make for a much different viewing experience.

Ratings:

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Dr. Horrible #1 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

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