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‘Firefly 20th Anniversary Special:’ Advance Comic Book Review

What is it? Two stories set in vastly different time periods in which the crew encounter an existential crisis grounded in spirituality. In Part 1, Shepherd Book encounters an entity from his past and must confront it in order to save the day. In Part 2, set in the “Brand New ‘Verse” timeline, echoes of Book’s past come back to haunt the crew in unexpected ways. Fans of Joss Whedon’s other work may recognize a familiar prayer for peace that serves as a throughline through both stories.

Part 1 is written by Jorge Corona, and it primarily centers on Shepherd Book, serving as a slice of philosophical discourse sandwiched between high-octane action sequences. Book’s past is still pretty mysterious, despite previous outings, and this is yet another microglimpse at what the good shepherd was up to in the past. While a bit heavy at times, Corona does hit a good balance with the levity, too, with the script having a zippy tone when appropriate. The artwork by Jordi Pérez is expressive and easy on the eyes as always. The colorwork by Francesco Segala and Gloria Martinelli really sells the visuals here, with some great dusty and light effects.

Part 2 is written by Josh Lee Gordon and shines the spotlight on Emma and her crew and a dark mystery involving a shepherd. While this bit feels less heavy than the first bit, it does explore a certain darkness that can reside in humanity. Returning us to his “Brand New ‘Verse” time, Gordon’s characters feel like they are a natural fit for the universe, and I would like to see him return to write more stories about this new crew. The artwork by Nicola Izzo is a refreshing change of pace, offering a slightly more Disney-esque look at the crew. The colors by Lucia Di Giammarino play to that aesthetic nicely, imbuing the pages with a crisp and vibrant palette that work well with depicting warm, familiar scenes, as well as the cold dark of space. The lettering by Jim Campbell is a connective thread that connects the two stories, and it’s a visual language that’s very helpful in its consistency.

Reading this Anniversary Special, I can’t help but wonder if killing Book off in Serenity was premature. If there was ever an enigmatic character that had a lot of backstory to mine, it was Book. While his presence here is welcome, the fact that these stories feel like they may not impact the larger narrative at hand just underscores how wasted I feel his potential was.  

Final thoughts: The 20th Anniversary Special is a little glimpse into the past and future. The stories seem to stand alone, and I don’t think they’ll necessarily be required reading for the rest of BOOM!’s endeavors.    

Creative Team: Jorge Corona, Josh Lee Gordon (writers), Jordi Pérez, Nicola Izzo (artists), Francesco Segala, Gloria Martinelli, Lucia Di Giammarino (colors), Jim Campbell (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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