Serenity: Leaves On The Wind #4

OK, after the last issue’s surprise ending, lets continue on.

Page One

The remaining crew of Serenity, minus Mal, glower down at something. We’ll try and conveniently ignore the fact that Simon’s eyes appear to be looking in two different directions.

Page Two

The reason for the glowering is revealed, as the Operative steps on-board Serenity, for the first time as it happens. Mal’s “Welcome aboard” doesn’t need any sarcastic indicators for the audience to get it. Then, Jayne eagerly asks Mal for a favour.

Page Three

Which happens to be the chance to kill the Operative when all is said and done. There’s a nice sense of energy to this page as Mal goes about the business of getting the ship up and running, not even looking at Jayne as they talk. He has things to do.

Page Four

Which includes murdering Jubal Early in cold blood, but done in such a fashion that his death is not a certainty. “Did Jet just die?” “I don’t know, it was really unclear.” This is another tie-in to the previous Early stuff, attempting to make some kind of repeating trait that you can never be sure if the guy is dead or not, Hakeswill-like. The casual way that Mal and Kaylee commit murder here is extremely jarring.

Page Five

Well, we’re moving on regardless. The crew discuss the plan with the Operative, laying out the basic problems, namely that breaking into the facility for a second time will require some ingenuity. The art in the top panel bothers me a bit, as the strangely drawn Bea, in black and white, doesn’t look like she really belongs in the scene. Probably a deliberate choice, but not a good one in my opinion.

Page Six

Bea offers the opportunity to get a ship, adding a cheap jibe at Mal’s apparent lack of heroism into the bargain, coming off like a spoiled brat in the process. Lower down, Kaylee and Inara start a clumsy conversation meant to explain why Mal is OK with having the Operative on Serenity. The explanation is weak. Everything about this so far is weak, a real “Just go with it” vibe.

Page Seven

A quick montage showing Serenity landing on Sihnon and the crew trekking out. Sihnon’s actually supposed to be one of the two main planets in this galaxy, the other being Londinium, so the apparently easy way the crew land in secrecy here is also bothersome.

Page Eight

Bea leads Mal to a New Resistance cell, which is a bit odd to find in the very core of Alliance territory, but whatever, just go with it. Check out Jayne’s comical grimace in the last panel.

Page Nine

On the Alliance prison colony, Zoe has her situation explained in grim terms, her confinement being on a totally desert planet where the inmates are allowed to interact and kill each other as they will. Yeesh, again, what’s the point of such a facility?

Page Ten

Zoe decides to play peacemaker, of a kind. Wasn’t sure I liked where this was going the first time, but at least the portrait shot of Zoe is great.

Page Eleven

Zoe beats up the guy. Moving right along.

Page Twelve

Mal and Inara share a rather nice, intimate moment before he, the Operative, Jayne and River blast off in their newly acquired shuttle. Simon and Kaylee watch smiling, but we still haven’t had the chance to see much of them doing the same. Slightly strange feeling here, we’ve already established Mal and Inara’s intimacy, why re-iterate it like this?

Page Thirteen

The team arrive at the Academy. A basic set-up page.

Page Fourteen

There doesn’t appear to be any security at the Academy. Could it be a trap? Before you get the chance to yell “Admiral Ackbar”, the Operative confirms that it is, indeed, a trap. We’re flying along in the narrative all of a sudden, this page had the feel of a ending for an issue.

Page Fifteen

It’s our Alliance friends from earlier in the story, whose names we never got. The Operative does the heroic thing, and the rest clamour into the facility. Wait, if it’s a trap, shouldn’t they be running away?

Page Sixteen

Admittedly nice to see Vera return, even if giving the weapon a whole page to show off seems a bit much, ‘Member Vera?

Page Seventeen

Welcome to the horror show, as River confronts one of her former tormentors in a grisly looking medical lab. Not bad. Outside, the Operative squares up to “Denon”, presumably also a Parliamentary Operative.

Page Eighteen

And they are having a straight up swordfight. The Operative’s use of the sword had a certain believability to it in Serenity, as a ceremonial weapon of execution, something he used just to kill and not to engage in combat with. So an actual swordfight like this, outside the realms of a formal duel, in a universe of spaceships and laser guns, seems a tad off. You just want the Operative to pull a gun and say “I am not a moron”.

Page Nineteen

Surprise, surprise, the doctors who worked on River are some the of the creepiest imaginable, seeming to be actually a bit crazy. Not exactly who I would picture the Alliance putting in charge of a project like this.

Page Twenty

River beholds some kind of stasis chamber for a dozen or more girls like she was. Interesting that they are all female, I’m not sure if Leaves On The Wind ever really makes something of that. River’s look of terror tells us all we need to know about what’s coming next.

Page Twenty-One

Jesus, the scientist is actually rubbing his hands while smiling gleefully. A bit much, no? Not exactly subtle. River is confronted by a “complete” version of herself, a shaven, unitard wearing killer. It appears the plan has backfired somewhat.

I hated this issue. It’s full of bad writing, bad artwork, rushed narratives and nonsensical plot decisions. It was at this point that I stopped really caring about Leaves On The Wind as a genuine continuation of the franchise, and started thinking of it instead as a sort of glorified fan-fiction exercise. Would the last third be able to change my mind? Tune in next week to find out.

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