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April 09 2008

(SPOILER) Serenity: Better Days #2 Discussion. Issue two of three hits comic stands today.

I don't know why but there doesn't seem to be as much online fandom chatter about this mini-series as there is for the Buffy and Angel comic books. Which is a shame cause the first issue is really good fun and I'm really looking forward to the second one.
Yeah, it's kinda weird how little interest there seems to be for this. I, for one, am eager to pick this one up, however the darn bookstore is always slow on the uptake. I enjoyed the first one, moreso than I did Those Left Behind. The line about bringing Buddha closer to heaven did it for me.

[ edited by Supersymmetrical on 2008-04-09 19:58 ]
I loved the Hero of Canton line. Huge grin on my face when I read that one.
I am as excited for this as I am for the Buffy comics. Hopefully I'll get this issue in a timely manner.
I imagine part of the letdown quality is that Firefly is more or less done - we already got the big Miranda/River revelation, the breakthrough for Captain Reynolds, two deaths out of nine principal characters, a sweet resolution to one of the unrequited-love stories, and that lovely end-of-Serenity scene of Mal and Inara maybe turning the corner. What more could we want? I imagine Joss Whedon could go on for ages telling stories in this universe, but he seems to have made his peace with it in the feature film, and who can blame him? (A fella can only take so much heartbreak.)

This prequel business has a little bit of a backtracking feel to it. OK make that a lot of a backtracking feel. I fell hard for Firefly, the movie gave me a hell of a lot of closure, and it's hard to get it up again to talk about this story.

Plus the first issue was very, very, very low-key. How exactly do you put these characters in jeopardy in a prequel? What's at stake?
Atop which: the Buffy series is sterling work from Joss et al., breaking new ground in terms of his storytelling universe(s). As of the latest few issues, everything in the heroes' world is at stake: the whole 'death of magic' plot (echoes of Carnivale?) means that all of Season Seven's Big Feminist Redemption Story could be exploded in the blink of an eye. If Joss is going where I think/worry he's going - removing the Slayers' powers, maybe even Buffy's - this is the grand finale of the Buffyverse we're talking about. Party and a half! That would be true of the Angel series as well, but something tells me there's a big reset-button press coming, and S6 will end pretty close to where it began. I hope I'm wrong; that's part of my anxiety about the series in general, which I don't think is in the same league as the Buffy monthly.

[ edited by waxbanks on 2008-04-09 20:38 ]
Well, I found the ending a little confusing, but I think it might be setting up why Mal and Simon are so hostile at the start of "Serenity" when they really weren't that way for a long time on the show.

That panel of Book's 'dream' is hilarious :)
What more could we want?

Geese juggling, what Inara's running from, who Book really is, what the hell Mal and Zoe did in those 6 years, what River and Simon do now that they are not fugitives, whether or not Mal and Inara ever have an actual conversation about their relationship rather than cranky insults and pining and hidden glances. Can Mal be happy for a change? Is River still a psychic? Is Jayne less cutthroat nowadays then he was earlier on? How does Zoe cope with Wash's death? Does Wash come back as a space zombie? Does Kaylee end his zombie mutiny? Are you still reading my rambling? So, pretty much everything plus new Chinese swearwords. But yeah, it being a prequel means no suspenseful "oh noes! Wash is in DANGER!" moments, for sure. Unless he dies and comes back and dies again, which so far seems to be a skill limited to Mal.
One frame in #2 almost made me snort. I'm pretty sure it'll hit you guys when you see it, but let's just say it involved lots of money spread out, and a Hugh Hefner moment...
It was hilarious to see the reactions of everyone else, but it did remind me of the episode that had Inara taking on a woman as a client, and how most of the boys, Book included were reduced to pervy fourteen year olds.

EDIT: KoC just hit it!
Waxbanks, you may be right about the direction Season 8 is going -- end of magic, slayers powerless, etc., setting up the world of Fray where it's all been forgotten -- but I think you're wrong about how tightly closed the Serenity story was. Guys in blue gloves? Lots more places to go in that 'verse.
"And then I stick it in?"

I laughed -- a lot. And even got teary-eyed during Wash's fantasy.
This was far better than the first issue. I'll post my review over at Buffyverse Comics and link here later.
This was good stuff, a little too rushed, but very good nonetheless. Sometimes 3 issues just isn't enough to tell a story. I like what Buffy S8 has going with 4 issue arcs, though even those could spill into a 5th sometimes.

I concur with the two already mentioned funnies, Book and Jayne.

At first I was surprised by Wash's fantasy... He didn't want a kid right? But then I remembered his main argument was that he didn't want to raise a child in the environment of law-breaking and near-death experiences. But if he owned a luxury liner on the other hand... Yes, very sad.

Also with the funny in Kaylee's and River's fantasies.

I thought the first ish was overall better, mainly due to the back and forth structure/quick pacing of this ish. But then, i read it while waiting to get my knee's X-rayed, so I wasn't exactly in the most comfortable environment.
I'm really enjoying this series. I was thinking that it was going to be solely an homage to the fans' desires to see our BDHs happy and together, with the first issue letting them get rich, and the second all about their dreams of a happy future, but then Mal got knocked out. Now of course I worry that things might get exciting after all! Of course waxbanks is right that setting it in the past means that they can't retcon any of our heroes into anything too dire, but really I agree far more with Sunfire: there is far more that we don't know about this verse. I'm still waiting for the revelations about the Blue Sun Corporation and why they are experimenting on teen-agers, and how much control they have over the Government and Military. At least I've always blamed Blue Sun since River seemed to target their logo....
The hubby's out picking up BD#2 right now, so can't comment on that one yet, but I will say that I has a great "WTF!!!" moment when my copy of BD#1 fell open to the page on which Inara says "Precious Buddha" without my having read anything else before or after that. ;-)
My favorite of the five Firefly issues so far. I'm not sure why Jayne would want to be an Alliance captain, as opposed to just his own man, but wanting to be top dog? That's our Jayne. Also, as funny as River's story was, isn't she supposed to be more lucid after OIS, or is she still relapsing a lot? I know Mal said she was still crazy in Serenity, but she seems maybe a little too far out in her story.

Book's story - funny in a ha-ha way, yes. but maybe revealing too? And interesting that Mal deflected with a joke any insight that his story would give the others into his thinking. Can he even imagine anymore not being on Serenity?

Anyway, loved it.
shambleau said:
"Book's story - funny in a ha-ha way, yes. but maybe revealing too? And interesting that Mal deflected with a joke any insight that his story would give the others into his thinking. Can he even imagine anymore not being on Serenity?"

That was what I was hinting at. Book did have the same fascination (as Jayne) with the idea that Inara would occasionally take female clients as well... and since we don't really know what's up with the guy's past... maybe something to think about.
Was very touched by Wash's fantasy though... but why wasn't Zoe's fantasy revealed? Or are we meant to walk away from it understanding that they shared similar ideas about what a perfect future might look like?
Coz I highly doubt that Zoe's idea of perfection looked anything at all like River's... as idyllic as it might have been. :)
I mean, for crying out loud, there was a freakin' llama. How cool is that?
wait, wash died?????.....jk.
can't wait to get my copy of #2 this weekend (if they still have it. darn having to work and make a living!)
Widdle Washlets - *sniff*

"Radiant Cobb" - *snort* and then *aawww*

Book-as-Scarface - *guffaws*

Mal's "certain sexual oddities"? - The fanficcers are gonna have a field day with that one!
This was good. Interesting that we haven't seen Mal, Zoe, or Inara share their fantasies yet. And Book's was a joke. I like how it's a gallery of vices. And he's so badass!

I'm not sure why Jayne would want to be an Alliance captain, as opposed to just his own man, but wanting to be top dog? That's our Jayne.

I read it as Jayne is an independent (little i) captain and the Alliance makes sure to stay the hell out of his way. Very much a glorified, over the top version of Mal. A space pirate the feds respect and leave alone. Also, warped. It was perfect except I can't imagine him wearing that kind of outfit voluntarily. But that isn't an Alliance uniform, is it?

One obscured figure approached after the Dust Devil attack. Ephraim speaks in plurals. Mal and Zoe are talking without talking again. And this drone guy personifies ruthlessness. Interesting, interesting.

That last page is rather suggestive. Also also, there is another pretty pretty CSTS ad. Also^3, if Mal was that edgy during a group vacation and I was there, I would be sorely tempted to do something drastic. Like dart him so he can sleep the crankiness off. He never does relax, does he?
Book's fantasy made my day. Then i started thinking... weren't there some semi-official rumblings that Book used to be a dirty cop of some kind? What if we weren't so much seeing a fantasy as his past?

Also, on the "why is there not more interest in this" front. It makes me sad to say that what waxbanks says is does not immediately strike me as wrong. Thusfar I have had less enthusiasm for Better Days than I have for S9. However, this may just be because I have been less impressed with the quality of Better Days than its Buffyverse counterpart, and in any case, I`m not ready to let go of Firefly just yet.
I always looked at Serenity (movie) as Joss closing something that he didn't want to, and closing something that shouldn't be closed. He didn't really have a choice in the matter though, since it's even more unlikely for any new filmed Firefly/Serenity to ever happen again, especially as it was originally envisioned.

Better Days is fantastic in that it's revisiting the original dream, at least as how I see it. We're getting what might be one final glimpse into how the show would have been had it not been killed so abruptly. I'm glad Joss took his time to write this because these two issues are probably the best comic writing he's ever done, in my opinion, with characters he originally created for TV.

I haven't been sad about the demise of Firefly for a while since in my mind it has never felt like it would ever be truly over, despite the finality of the film, but reading this series is very bittersweet. I just hope Joss wants to continue with some form of the series beyond the next Book miniseries.
If the movie Serenity was the end of the story, this is the literary equivalent of an epilogue.

[ edited by archon on 2008-04-10 03:42 ]
Anybody else have to go read Issue #1 again and then read Issue #2 again. Very shiny indeed! Very much like a Firefly Episode. Re-readable...re-watchable.

I don't think Mal and Zoe are/were dust devils. Cause...Just because!

Took me a while to figure out the "little shade" thing.

Loved the full page ad for http://www.cantstoptheserenity.com/

wenxina,

Thanks for pointing out the llama. I thought it was a camel. Much cooler to think it was a little in-joke about the llama on the Serenity original DVD cover.

Sunfire | April 10, 03:11 CET
He never does relax, does he?


Heart of Gold Firefly episode.
As far as this lack of online chatter that Simon posted about, is that true even on the Firefly boards? I figured there might be far more interest there than on just Whedon or Buffy sites.
Better Days is fantastic in that it's revisiting the original dream, at least as how I see it. We're getting what might be one final glimpse into how the show would have been had it not been killed so abruptly.
Archon, that's exactly how I feel too. We never got enough of the show, and the movie, while still great, just couldn't replace what could have been slow and delicious character drama, character and tension build-up etc.

And I have so much love for this comic exactly because it continues the show, adds one more episode to the meager 14 which we've had. "Those Left Behind" didn't feel like that: it was more in the movie continuity and so it was shoehorning the characters to fit into the movie-verse, which isn't quite the same as show-verse for me: the characters even looked different, and they felt and acted different, not mentioning the retcons.

So this comic is a joy and a gift.
The characters are coming alive in it, both in writing and the art. Some Mal's and Zoe's face expressions were so great, and Simon's, when he says "it's just a lamp". Great character moments, and the drama is interesting too: with Mal's ongoing inability to fit in and leave the war behind, which is prevented both by Alliance vengeance and his own distaste for the new order.
Sweet scenes in the spa, and between Simon and River (aww), dreams were all excellent and the ending - hmm, Simon/Inara shippers might have a month of anticipation build-up, mua-ha-ha. Maybe talking to Jayne about Companions got Simon in the mood? :) Nah. Even if it was so, he'd never go to Inara for this. Probably they just had a chat over something, but Mal would suspect dirty play and that would set up a conflict in #3.

Re. Jayne fantasy: I too read it as him being the glorified space pirate, respected even by the Alliance.
archon, Joss didn't write this I believe, although he did break the story. I'd imagine he also poked the script with sticks. Or his keyboard.

I think the lack of interest is two fold - the hardcore fans are starting to drift off the online websites because - let's be honest - there's not exactly much of interest going on publicly at the moment. And there's not been much publicity for these comics. I'd imagine Joss being in the middle of Dollhouse production has limited his ability to do press interviews for it.

[ edited by gossi on 2008-04-10 14:21 ]
Heart of Gold Firefly episode.

That explains it. His ideal vacation is an impending siege. ;)
This issue was fantabulous. So much better than the first. Despite all the money and fun and fantasy, the comic feels consistently dark, which is perfect for this verse.

Can't wait for #3!
It was a really good issue, I can't wait this comes out in trade format so I can buy it and read it all over again.
Really enjoyed the issue, much better than the 1st, which had too much action too little plot.

However, as much a fan of Firefly I am...I gotta say I agree with those who kinda think 'whats the point of this'. We know the ending. So there is no danger for the characters, no space for growth beyond what we already know.

And Sunfire -you summed it up perfectly. Look at how much story can be told post-Serenity. Instead we are getting a 3 issue miniseries which covers old ground and doesnt really say anything *new*.

Dont get my wrong...I love these characters and I want to see more of them. Just not like this.

And Simon- I think the reason there isnt as much..I suppose enthusiasm is the word...for the miniseries is because it's just not continuing the story like Buffy and Angel are. Those 2 are shaking up their respective verses, and letting the characters grow,evolve, suffer and live and breathe again.

Serenity is just like a trip down memory lane. Which is a pity because I really really want the characters to live again.
Wash babies... :(

I gotta say, I'm loving the art in this. There are so many panels where the characters are just dead on. More so than any of the other comics. Especially Kaylee and Inara.
And Sunfire -you summed it up perfectly. Look at how much story can be told post-Serenity. Instead we are getting a 3 issue miniseries which covers old ground and doesnt really say anything *new*.

I had some backstory stuff in there. I think there's plenty of story to be told, both pre and post Serenity. And new Chinese swearwords work at all times.
gossi, good point. It's hard to say how much writing he actually did with this, and since he brought on Brett again, it'd imply that he didn't want (or couldn't due to time) to write the full thing. Even still, whatever his involvement, the characters and everything just feels exactly like Firefly/Serenity, except in comic form, which is what I was getting at.
Ooo, I misread Ephraim's dialogue before. Not plurals-- one Dust Devil.
Hmm. Any relation to Dirt Devil?
I was about half way through before I realised that it was like the cast was in my head, the writing is so accurate (as should be expected, lol...) but this feels like such a real portrayal of the characters, I can hear them saying every line.

I am totally engrossed, oh no! Only one issue left!
Yeah, it doesn't cover any new ground, and no stakes can be raised...but for me, #2 was pure bliss. I was disappointed with both Buffy and Angel this month (though that was only after months of utter excellence), but I could not be more satisfied with this.

It's exactly like an episode of the show, which is enough to bring tears to my eyes.

(And the llama! Mwahahaha!)
To my mind, it could raise the stakes in a way. Not in a "will Mal die?!" way, but in a "how persistent was Mal or Zoe in the cause right after the war?" way. All signs point to it being Mal who was a Dust Devil (or maybe the guy chasing them, he's pretty extreme in his means). I do have a nagging sense something is up with Zoe though. Except she's career military and it just doesn't fit with what we know about her.

But yeah, I think there are stakes beyond whether someone dies, starts a romance, or what have you. I'm hoping that we learn something from the past that means we re-evaluate what we think we already know about the characters. In my mind the door is very much open to the stakes being raised.
"But yeah, I think there are stakes beyond whether someone dies, starts a romance, or what have you. I'm hoping that we learn something from the past that means we re-evaluate what we think we already know about the characters. In my mind the door is very much open to the stakes being raised."

I agree with Sunfire, I think/hope that Better Days, this little jewel of a comicbook, is setting up a subtle shift in our perspective on something we think we already know.

People have already pointed out some of the highlights of the issue, I'd like to add the vision of Serenity flying over the tropical landscape, it's great to have such a beautiful picture of a planetfall. I imagine the departure (if we get to see it) will be rather more hurried.

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