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November 03 2010

(SPOILER) Discuss 'Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale'. The Whedonverse's most intriguing mystery gets resolved courtesy of Zack Whedon and Chris Samnee.

Is the one on Amazon the same as the one in stores, only a week later?
Yes. Comic book shops get it first or something like that.
Dear God, he's made of cho--- oops! (SPOILER).
So was he an Operative or what? And did Mr Early make an appearance?
-He was a browncoat undercover agent – apparently abandoned by both sides – or simply did not care for either side anymore
-Had a fake eye that was apparently never removed - it served as a recording bug that supplied the brown coats with intel
-Messed up really bad with his Alliance superiors but it was all covered up by the Alliance themselves otherwise his ident. Card would’ve gotten him no help in “Safe”

[ edited by JohnAnthony on 2010-11-03 21:16 ]
Cool. I don't think anyone predicted that.
Where are all the comments? The story itself, and how it was told, were great. From end to beginning, a la Memento. Worth the wait...and the $15.
I certainly didn't predict any of this, and it is profoundly interesting with respect to his vocation as a preacher, BUT it doesn't fit very well at all with the respect his Identity card received when he was injured and taken to an Alliance hospital. What does everyone else think?
Embers, the event was expunged from the records. No evidence that it had taken place. Hidden. Whatever you wanna call it. No reason they would have it flagged when they ran his ident card.

[ edited by 10th Crew Member on 2010-11-03 22:48 ]
In terms of TV, Firefly/Serenity will always be the story I most regret never getting to experience in full. This fills in a little of the story, but in truth, the most profound thing about this tale - to me - is the pain. Reading this story reopened the wound of missing out on 95% of what Firefly should have been and made that wound fresh again.

(Spoilers all through this thread.)

I think the execution was a bit weak for something I've anticipated so long. It was good, but for this, I wanted outstanding. The storytelling did not quite grab me, but it did nudge me. The art isn't my favorite style, but it was well executed for what it was. All in all, it was a 3 out of 5 (average) when this is something so anticipated by me that anything less than a 5 of 5 would feel like a waste.

It explains Henry's tale (Derrial wasn't his real name), but if this is truly the story Joss intended, I can see how it would have been so much more interesting when woven into the rest of the Firefly storyline. I'd have loved to see Book explain to Mal that he was an Alliance officer, but only because he was actually an infiltrator for the browncoats. I wonder what Joss would have done with the camera eye. I wonder if anyone that knew book as Henry would ever have made an appearance.

I found the timing of Book's story interesting. Apparently, he was on Serenity for at least 2 years (and as many as 4 years). That does not seem to gel with the storyline of the Serenity movie. He was in the abbey 6 years before the battle of Serenity (and four years after that before joining Mal & Co.), wandered the lands for 6 years before that, and served in the Alliance for about 8 years prior to that. That means he left the Alliance 12 years before the battle of Serenity - when Mal was presumably in his late teens or early twenties - perhaps just joining the browncoats. Could something Book have done been one of the reason Mal became a Browncoat?

I see where Zack was going with the soup, but I don't think he nailed it. We know it was something Joss came up with from Ron's comments on that cruise. I'd love to see Joss and Ron get together and do that one little scene on film. I have to imagine that that scene is high on the list of the scenes Joss had envisioned that he most wanted to film.

The thing that stands out to me from the way this story was told: Book already completed his journey and found his redemption BEFORE Firefly began. That would have made for an interesting character.

Zack's note at the end hints that the long delay in this project may have been partially his fault. Brave man.
I enjoyed it! Obviously today's a big DH comics day for another line. I don't have any particularly deep thoughts about this issue. But I enjoyed it and wanted to share that!
It was good. The best Serenity comic at least. I loved the undercover Browncoat reveal, never saw that coming.

I would have preferred the structure to be different. Make it have more of a story than just flashbacks. Something as simple as having Book tell his story to Mal or someone discovering Book's journal after he died or something. Gives the thing itself more of a point than just answering questions.
I think Joss (and now Zack) are slipping -- already had msot of this in mind after that comment in "Serenity" between Mal and Book.

Onlt things that surprised me: just how much he helped the Browncoats, and of course the eye. Was that eye still transmitting all this time during the show? Woudl someone know secrets about the Serenity crew, and maybe blackmail them later?

And remember the canon Whedon trilogy (I think the second trilogy) had a brief page where Book was working on something and a transmission came in saying he had been terminated? He was still working for SOMEbody while onboard Serenity, even after he found his faith and turned his life around. One might say he's still got a grudge somewhere. Maybe even was sent by a Dust Devil(?) that wasn't quite in good standing with Mal, to kill him.

Just some thoughts.

Overall I liked it. Felt it was a little empty at times -- it lacked that Joss touch of deeper filling, and more dialogue, often gowing passed scenes too quickly, all in an attempt just to get the story over with faster.

And as much as Zack praised his artist, those two (or three?) panels with Mal, were hands down THEE WORST characters art in ANY of Whedon's work I have ever seen. Aweful, truly aweful. A re-pressing should feature FIXED art.
Seriously? You fix the art. The art was fantastic. Just gorgeous. Yes, his Mal did not look like Mal. Mal was only in 2 or three panels. Get over it and use your imagination. One of my favorite old cartoons was The Real Ghostbusters. Harold Ramis did not look like Bruce Campbell with a white pompadour, but it fit the character, and it was a cartoon. This artist was clearly not going to be drawing likenesses, and to be honest, I'm tired of fans expecting exact portraits on the interiors of books (some of which have a monthly schedule, and getting mad when they're late). Cover artists, particularly painters, can do photo real work. Let interior comics artists portray these characters in their own individual styles, while keeping the basic clothes/hair/expressions continuity that is how we recognize characters in graphic novels.

I also respectfully disagree and say that Zack absolutely nailed the soup thing, and I loved the book. I was surprised by the Browncoat spy thing and by the death of the real Derrial, feeling how those moments would have played out in the show. At times, it felt too short -- I could have read a miniseries where each issue took place further back, personally -- but that is a minor quibble.

My only real regret about this book is that I, like some other commenters have mentioned, would have rathered this within the context of the show, alas. These revelations, metered out in this order, would have made for great development of Book, and of Mal's relationship to both he and the Alliance.
I thought that Zack nailed the soup thing too, at least it worked beautifully for me: I didn't know anything like that was expected and I found it profound and fitting of the way Book would be moved to investigate religion for the first time.

The camera eye thing really was disturbing, because that is almost the kind of thing I would expect the Blue Hand guys to learn about, and use. Or would have been if Firefly had been on the air for years. :(
While I can see why some people might find it rushed or wish it had been a mini-series, I think there's a character reason for it being the way it is.

Each part of Book's life depicted is reduced to its essential component, which suits the man Book became. Book's weird sort of Zen Christianity, as it manifested in him in the present day, was very much about each moment being boiled down to its essence. (You could argue that's precisely what the exchange about the water is all about.)

And so as we get glimpses of his life, those glimpses are not belabored, because Book himself no longer belabored these things, or, really, anything. The form in which the story is told reflects the character whose life is being depicted.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2010-11-05 00:56 ]
I really enjoyed it. I agree with what B!x has to say about things being boiled down to the essence. Not to mention to me it felt like these events are what Book was reflecting on shortly before he died. Obviously then he wouldn't have had much time to reflect on any one moment for too long. At least that is how it came across to me.

The art wasn't my favorite style, but I didn't have a problem with it. Would we all have liked a longer story? Of course, but what we got is great and definitely alters how future re-watches can be viewed. It informs us enough about Book to change the significance of specific events.
I thought this was really good, it's the best 'Verse comic book to date.
Good story. Not what I had in my head for it, but that's not a bad thing. I was listening to "Has Thouh Considered the Tetrapod" earlier today and golly that song hits close to home. So I am going to be predisposed to enjoying that aspect of Book's story (and I don't care what his birth name is he considered himself Book at the end and so that's who he is to me.)
Add me to the sad it wasn't able to be shown in the series with the actors but I still enjoyed it muchly.
Now just Inara's secret and we are all wraped up.
I read this and thought "Damn. Joss did it again". I did not see this coming.
I felt the language was spot on and much better than some of the previous comics. I loved the layers. A man who doesn't care much about anything, being a spy in a cause he does not believe strongly in, and what finally gets him is the deaths of those innocents. Which he caused.
I'm not sure it answers how he was so well versed in all things Alliance, including secret things like the Operative, but I can live with that.
Wow. Absolutely loved it. It's in a completely different class to the previous Firefly/Serenity comics and it's up there with Fray as my favourite Whedon-verse comic.

I was thinking that it was a bit slow in the beginning and the structure meant that you always knew where each scene was heading, but when we got into the new revelations about Book's life, it was brilliant. It's a great back-story for the character. He's got a lot of blood on his hands to feel guilty over.
I agree with the previous sentiments (best verse comic to date, etc.)

I loved the structure; each layer revealing some new and important piece of Book's character/history.

I love how it was really two stories. The story of how Book became the man we have all come to know and love, and the story of his evolving hairstyle (which we also know and love). Except... did anyone else think that Book went from black hair to grey hair just a bit too fast?

I love the mislead at the beginning. Well, I'm not entirely sure if it was INTENDED to be a mislead, but that's how I read it. When the kid at the beginning asked Book how he got to be tangled up with Serenity crew, and Book starts speechifying, I kind of thought he was going to just tell his life story. But no! Sudden death from above!
I enjoyed it. My biggest worry, for some reason, was that his faith would turn out to be part of his cover, but I should have had faith in the storytelling powers that be.
Very satisfying backstory.
Interesting that it showed a side of the browncoats that could be a little ruthless and utilitarian as well as loyal and idealistic.
Not a single word in Chinese. :-(
Do you think maybe the man and woman being robbed could have been Mal's parents and that is why they moved to Shadow?
I just got it in the mail today from Amazon UK and read it straightaway. I thought it was really cool, but was wondering about the timeline some. Book was on Serenity two years before Haven was attacked and joined Serenity two years prior. Is there a four year gap between Serenity (Fierfly-pilot) and Serenity (Motion Pic)? Strikes me as a long period. Any thoughts?
You could always ask the writer at this Skype session.

Though it would incredibly early in the morning for your timezone.
Well I won't lose any sleep on it.
Maybe I'll just have a bowl of soup
and have a revelation of sorts.

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