REVIEW: ‘Firefly: Unification War,’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Firefly: Unification War Volume 1

Firefly: Unification War Volume 1 is published by BOOM! Studios, written by Greg Pak, art by Dan McDaid, inks by Anthony Fowler Jr. and Tim Lattie, with letters by Jim Campbell. As if a faulty engine wasn’t bad enough, the crew of Serenity quickly finds themselves in the crosshairs of an Alliance heavy cruiser. But why do they seem to have it in for one lone firefly class freighter? And what will Mal and crew have to do to get away with their skins intact?

The past always has a nasty tendency of catching up to you. No matter how far or fast you run, it’ll always be right behind you. It’s even true for space cowboys. But for some, the sins of the past are far heavier to bear than for others. This is particularly true when war gets mixed into the mess. Even if one tries to do only righteous things, a person’s hands can still become stained beyond recognition. And when the tab comes due, and the past finally catches up to you, there is one inevitable truth your sins always remind you of—that you’ll always have to carry that weight.

Firefly: Unification War Volume 1 sees the Serenity forced to set down on a small out-of-the-way moon called Bethlehem after an engine failure, combined with an attack by an Alliance ship, gives them no other real recourse. Desperate for money to repair their battered home and in need to find it quickly before the Alliance tracks them down, Mal, Zoe, and Jayne head to a small nearby settlement to find a job. Before they know it, they land an escort gig helping pilgrims through bandit infested lands to reach a holy shrine. All the while, the Alliance continues to search for Serenity, particularly its captain and first mate.

The first thing I have to compliment this book about is Pak’s ability to deliver the cast of Firefly’s iconic personality. While holding a cast’s preexisting personalities is always important, I feel like it is doubly so for this franchise. Happily, Pak delivers them perfectly. And while this is true for all of the cast, as the story comes to focus on Mal and Zoe, these two characters are given even more care than their compatriots.

Firefly: Unification War Volume 1 main theme explores the hidden side of all of us. Whether the hidden aspects of us are in our past or present, it seems to propose that we are all hiding something. And it’s probably right. Hopefully, however, most of us are hiding less than what many on the quiet moon of Bethlehem are keeping under their hats.

Like its writing, this book’s art does a great job of capturing the personality of its cast and setting. From Jayne’s explosive temper to Kaylee’s sweet innocence, every character is presented just as any fan would expect them to be. Coupling this characterization with the melding of covered wagons on a hard trail being overflown by futuristic spacecraft and you have everything Firefly has always been.

The colorwork in Firefly: Unification War Volume 1 does an excellent job creating plenty of variety in the art. With most of the story taking place on the pilgrim trail, it would be easy for all of the illustrations to blend together. Happily, the color used by McDaid goes a long way to alleviating this. With the night scenes on the trail allowed to be truly oppressive in their darkness, the contrast is greatly increased from the daylight sequences. More so than is often the case, where the darkness is toned down so the reader may be afforded perfect visibility of the action.

This contrast is further augmented by the occasional flashback panels that go back to Mal and Zoe’s time fighting in the Unification War. These panels are constantly awash in reds as the anger, pain, and blood of the various moments are put front and center by both the art and its colors.

Rounding out the presentation here is Campbell’s fine job on letters. This story is delivered clearly and precisely thanks to Campbell’s skillful placement of the various dialogue bubbles and boxes.

When all is said and done, Firefly: Unification War Volume 1 delivers a great start to its larger narrative while also telling a definitive story of its own to keep it from feeling unfinished by itself.

Firefly: Unification War Volume 1 is available on December 30th, wherever comics are sold.

Firefly: Unification War Volume 1
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TL;DR

When all is said and done, Firefly: Unification War Volume 1 delivers a great start to its larger narrative while also telling a definitive story of its own to keep it from feeling unfinished by itself.