#2 begins with a nice exhibition of what the Alliance is: an opening shot of the Tahoka class, that city in space, and then the interior, where Jubal Early and the two Alliance officers enjoy a sumptuous meal on a long elegant table in a cavernous dining room, huge windows offering a glimpse into the stars. The actual words being spoken are largely lost in the opulence. Just as well maybe, as Early’s platitudes are fairly weak in script terms.
It’s a bit strange to see the Resistance so well prepared as to have such a ship as this, high-tech and with a large crew, but maybe the crowded, functional-looking nature of the thing is meant to serve as a contrast to the Tahoka on the previous page. Jayne is lording it up on the mission to find Mal, eating an apple and wearing his hat. The Resistance leader – still unnamed to this point – seems to have begun something of a rapport with him. Romance option? Perhaps, it’s more biting sarcasm so far. She’s also wearing clothes similar to Mal, and almost parroting his lines, in a sign of hero worship.
Or maybe not on the romance, though her overly-violent reaction to Jayne’s apparent failure to find Mal again speaks more to an aura of childishness and being out of her depth than anything else. Similar gun to Mal’s too. Hmm…
Big impressive image here, where the sci-fi side of things gets hit hard: an incredible glimpse of a mining operation where the cube shaped device is slowly eating into the rings of a gas giant. The lower frames are a simple recounting of the primay problem facing Serenity, namely that Zoe needs medical attention that Simon can’t provide on his own, but the minute Serenity docks at this medical station the ship will be ID’d.
Here, we recount the same kind of technology we saw in “Ariel” as a doctor gives Mal what is, in fact, terrible news. Just narrative building here, the only thing of note being the handlebar moustache on the doctor.
As feared, the Alliance is quickly on Serenity’s tale, and the reader realises the decision Mal has to make: if he leaves with Zoe, she’s dead. If he stays with her, they’re all going to prison. Some nice artwork here, with the top panel of Inara, River and Kaylee, with Emma, maybe the best of the story so far.
In the end the decision is actually easy enough to make: Zoe doesn’t want the Alliance to get Emma, so Mal has to leave. Some not so great artwork here, with Zoe’s crying face having shark-esque eyes in the middle.
The lack of words here works really well. We get all we need with the distressed look on Mal’s face as he leaves Zoe’s side, the pent-up fury of the Alliance soldiers and the stoic-ness of Zoe. Some really bad background art though: check out the medical personnel as the purplebellies charge past.
Serenity is adrift in a ship graveyard, an image effectively paired with Mal adrift in the ship’s galley. It’s also a nice comparison with Simon and Kaylee sharing an intimate moment while bottlefeeding Emma, the first time we have actually seen them be intimate. Inara is there for Mal, but there’s a limit to what she can do to comfort him: this page does a good job of emphasising Mal’s hopelessness at losing Zoe, the person who has been with him the longest.
Nice opening image of River, as the artwork takes a turn a little bit into more detailed territory. River outlines simply the crux of how Serenity will fight back, but the drawbacks are also plain, as we see in Simon’s stern face in the final panel.
These two pages have all been about showcasing faces, but here things take a turn for the trite as River needlessly showcases her fighting skills to make the point that she isn’t, and can never be, normal. The artwork is jumping back and forth between detailed and simple now, and it’s a little jarring.
Simon puts River under. Two things jumped out to me here: firstly the goofy way Simon’s face if drawn in the middle panels, and the apparent error as Mal requests River be strapped down even though the first panel shows her restrained. Reading the first time, I instantly assumed that the following pages would be a dream.
But I was wrong. Jayne discovers Serenity, and we see that the Resistance ship is even a facsimile of Serenity. And the Resistance leader gets a name, Bea.
I loved Mal’s brutal shutdown of Bea’s argument. You can actually envision that this is something he has imagined having to confront since the events of the film, indeed it might not even be the first time. He isn’t of any mind to entertain the prospect of becoming part of the Resistance. And when he states plainly that Bea’s crew is likely to have led the Alliance to their location, we know instantly that he must be right. Also interesting to see his reaction to Jayne, which is immediately standoffish.
Of course, Mal was right, and Jubal Early is already making his move, his motions here deliberately similar to those that he showcased in “Objects In Space”. The danger here is of just retreading old territory then, and Zach Whedon will end up doing a bit of that.
A whole page is used to showcase Early’s deadly skills, though Leaves On The Wind had already pretty much done that, albeit less grahically, in the first issue.
I’ll admit, there is something rather awkward when a comic actually uses the “BOOM” description for an explosion. Especially in Firefly, which established a scientifically accurate “no sound in space” aesthetic as early as its second sequence. Mal’s first thought is for the identity of the attacker, and his second is to Emma’s well-being, quite telling. Serenity streaks away from the eerie sight of a Firefly-class in pieces.
This is dedicated to Zoe’s plight, and the insidious attempts of the Alliance officer to get under her skin. He’s got a good angle too: Zoe urged Mal to leave her because she didn’t want Emma to fall into Alliance hands, and now the Alliance taunts Zoe with the idea of never seeing her again. Some good artwork on this page, especially whenever the perspective gets on close. Not so much far out, like with the comical sad face on Zoe in one panel.
This might be my favourite page, because it surprised me a little. It never even occurred to me that Mal might be angry to see Jayne again, you just want them to be back in the same room. But of course Mal is annoyed: it took so little for Jayne to lead a bunch of strangers to Serenity, and that’s a remarkably dangerous thing, that calls back to Jayne’s poor quality of decisions in episodes like “Ariel”. But there’s also signs of Jayne’s better qualities in this exchange, like his offering to help Zoe, or the obvious desire he has for Mal’s respect and approval. But Mal’s not in a mind to be Jayne’s redemption, not again.
Leaves On The Wind ends his second issue with a connected final two pages that weaves its way around Serenity’s residents with an uncertain narrator commenting on what we see. Bea mourns what she’s lost, which probably goes beyond a crew and a ship: her belief in Malcolm Reynolds has been striped away. Kaylee and Simon sleep in her quarters, next to Emma’s cot, a contrasting image of intimacy and peace. Jayne sits alone, thinking about what he has done. A sleepless Mal lies with Inara (who looks strangely like River, I’m sure the shipers appreciated that) nowhere near a semblance of rest. And River lies alone, comatose, but still with a noticeable look of concentration on her face.
The final image of the issue is a suitable one for Jubal, as he leers over the unconscious River, airing his philosophical musings to no one in particular. Leaves On The Wind #2 has gone out of its ways to show Early as deadly and as pathological as possible, but here, aside from the good build-up, all its doing is retreading again, and that’s a bit disappointing.
With its iffy artwork and pandering to nostalgia, Leaves On The Wind was off to a rocky enough start, redeemed slightly by the general narrative and the opportunity for decent character interactions. #3 promises some trippy River sequences.