Issue #25 has quite the agenda to pull off, and it’s largely successful. It sets up the lay of the land, establishing the new status quo of the interpersonal relationships and whereabouts of the Serenity crew. It’s like returning home after a long absence; some things are different, people have changed, and yet some things seem written in stone. If the last year felt like the sophomore season of the show where we got deeper into the world, this feels like the season where things get kind of wild and unpredictable, where what we know is upended. Longtime fans of the Whedonverse will probably get this reference: The feeling I got while reading this issue was akin to the sudden introduction of Dawn on Buffy the Vampire Slayer - a huge “huh?” but with intrigue. Greg Pak takes us into uncharted space with this time jump, and while I’m left with a LOT of questions about what’s taken place off-page so far, I trust in Pak to either reveal them in due time or possibly better yet to convince me that those events don’t matter as much. Some of the vagueness does seem intentional, so as to (possibly?) allow the Dark Horse-era stories to exist without being overtly tied to them. In short, you don’t have to have read Leaves on the Wind or No Power in the ‘Verse to be caught up, but there are hints that those series did take place.
Pius Bak comes onboard this issue as the artist, and while his work is highly stylized, it’s really effective and there’s a balletic grace to the way he illustrates motion. The opening pages are extremely affecting, really amplifying the unsaid words and emotional tension there. Marcelo Costa’s excellent colorwork remains a high point, whether it’s depicting the dry, dusty exteriors or the cold glow of monitors and fluorescent lights. Jim Campbell, as per yoosh, keeps the proceedings clear and neat, skillfully adding emphasis where needed and making the soundscape every bit as engaging as it’s meant to be.
Overall, with some notably absent old faces and the return of an unexpected familiar one, things are off to an interesting, new start. Pak et al. continue to exemplify why #StoriesMatter; stories can be comforting old friends in which we seek solace in their familiarity, but they can also be wildly new and exciting in ways that we never expected. Stories, after all, are the distilled essence of humanity.
Creative Team: Greg Pak (writer), Pius Bak (art), Marcelo Costa (colors), Jim Campbell (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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