Serenity: Some Thoughts On Float Out

The next major Serenity comic release was Float Out, written by Patton Oswalt, with art by Patric Reynolds.

Float Out is a Wash story, or stories rather. In the aftermath of his death in the events of Serenity, three of his former companions get together to christen a ship in his honour, and decide to each swap a tale about his exploits and his character – with a very important twist at the end of the telling.

In the next few entries of this continuing look at Firefly/Serenity I’ll talk about what Float Out says about one Hoban Washburne and then offer some thoughts about the final reveal of a pregnant Zoe. But for now, I’d just like to look at the comic in a more general sense, and discuss some observations that occurred to me, re-reading now for the first time in a while.

-Why Wash to get his own comic? For the same reason that Book did: Float Out is a eulogy in comic book form, for a character sadly missed after a shocking loss.

-It was nice that the writers took the time to flesh out the trio that propel the framing story. Leland, Trey and Tagg, while they only get so many pages, come out of Float Out looking like three dimensional beings that you wouldn’t mind seeing a little bit more off, with personalities of their own and a heady mixtures of assets and flaws. You can easily imagine an episode or two of the TV show involving these past friendships of Wash.

-For all of the bitching and moaning between Tagg, Leland and Trey, the story gets off on the right foot by having their shared respect and veneration for Wash stifle the argument, and lead into the actual story-telling.

-Trey’s story offers, as its opening frame, one of my favourite panels in the realm of Serenity comics, with just the three ships that formed the convoy, all different, all with a unique design. Firefly didn’t have the budget to go too mad on the variety of ships it could show, and the film packed it all in to one extended sequence, so its nice to let this aspect of the universe shine a little bit.

Float Out is also a bit of an anomaly in the larger Serenity comics canon, at least from an artistic standpoint. The artwork here is a lot less cleaner than what you might find in Those Left Behind or Better Days: it’s grungier, dirtier, something made to illustrate the life of tradesmen who spent their life working with machines as much as they worked with people. It’s not a change of pace, even if, in some panels, the effect is actually rather off-putting: you wonder if Float Out might have attempted to copy the idea of “Out Of Gas”, and place its various flashbacks in different hues and in different art styles.

-The return of Wash’s dinosaur toys is very much appreciated, even with the unlikely shout-out to one of the worst movies ever made.

-I love that the abomination the Reavers have made actually has a name to describe it: a “murder wedge”. What I would have given to see such a monstrosity depicted on the big screen.

-Trey describes the decision of the larger Reaver fleet to plunge after their larger, stricken, comrade part of their “hornet’s code”, a rather obtuse phrase, perhaps meant to compare to the insects attack behaviour, where a whole nest will often attack at the signal of just one. I rather liked the idea that the Reavers’ instinctual need to chase something down could be turned into an opportunity for those usually fulfilling the role of prey: something that would have been a neat resolution to a TV or film plot.

-I think I have known several people in my life who “always worried about who’d hear {their) last words, and whether or not they’d be clever.”

-Speaking of universe padding, the “crazy moon” of Madcap, with its rapidly changing seasons and daredevil rich folk looking to test themselves, is something I would really like to see a larger story set on.

-Ditto for the action sequence described there, a deadly chase across multiple landscapes and weather formations, ending in a genius bit of manoeuvring.

-The final story is a bit more of human one, but we shouldn’t ignore the technological aspects: the electronic nets that make a return from “Our Mrs Reynolds”, and the dumped water purifiers that bare more than a passing resemblance to the crybaby’s of “Serenity” and the film.

-It’s also a great way to tell an effective mini story: Leland’s whole tale could essentially be told in two panels, but has a beginning, middle, end, and a serious point to make about its focus.

-The story leaves its main surprise for last, with the sudden appearance of Zoe, offering a more suitable drink for the Jetwash’s christening. There is something heartbreaking about seeing her, post-Serenity, discussing her now dead husband in wistful tones: particularity endearing is her description of Un-Ga-Pae as “Perfect for a young couple, of limited means, on a first date”, obviously remembering better times.

-It was strange reading Float Out in many ways, as the first piece of official media that took place after the film that so irrevocably altered the universe. While largely self-contained in its narrative and focus, Float Out was still a very important step, one that would lead to further creative efforts in a “post-BDM” world.

But overall Float Out is about Wash: next time, I’ll talk about exactly how much and in what way.

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