Serenity: Leaves On The Wind #5

After the very lacklustre fourth issue, Leaves On The Wind trundles onward.

Page One

The person River tells the crew to run from in the top panel always looked liked the player character in Bully to me. Anyway, this page is the start a very action heavy chapter, here setting up quickly that River 2 is as bad-ass as the original.

Page Two

Mal gets a very serious looking wound in the neck, while River 2 takes everyone else out. Some good action art here.

Page Three

Continuation of the same, again with good artwork. I like those ending panels, that, digitally anyway, actually create a bit of suspense in a way that this medium often fails to do.

Page Four

Here we begin to get the ol’ “Flashback to set up the twist” explanation, starting with a glimpse into the scene in “Out Of Gas” where Wash set up the recall button, that has since taken on a bit of an iconic aura to Firefly fans.

Page Five

So Mal wants to call Serenity to him. All getting a bit clearer now. Mal’s looking at the button with a wistful parlour on his face is a nice touch. Also good is that ever River seems a tad mystified by what he is intending.

Page Six

Continuing the flashbacks, we’re back with the New Resistance, after the cut-off from the previous issue. Mal cuts the fawning short in this one on one example, but it won’t be long until he needs to go after that adulation. Nice sense of an underground in this page.

Page Seven

Not so much here. Again, how is the New Resistance this popular on one of the core worlds? They try to explain this away later, but it doesn’t work. Still, Mal’s brief speech is a nice one, as is the transition back into the present, through Jayne’s recitation of Mal’s name in both timelines.

Page Eight

I think they sort of miss a trick here, because in that first panel Mal looks straight up dead, and they could have kept the tension going for a while longer. Instead he gets up in the next panel, while River is getting her ass handed to her for the very first time. That’s long overdue to be honest, even in just the comics.

Page Nine

Things are getting really interesting inside, so let’s cut away to this dumbass sideshow. I think the Operative has been really wasted in Leaves On The Wind so far, with his point in the story largely superflous.

Page Ten

Someone liked the finale of Equilibrium, eh? Yuch. And let’s cap off the gore with another line pruned from the existing canon, shall we?

Page Eleven

The Operative is stunned by the female operative walking towards him, sternly ordering Bea to lay down her arms for a chance to live. I wasn’t a big fan of this, if only because River 2 got to show how dangerous she was by beating up River, this woman just gets to walk towards the Operative while he goes into hari-kiri mode. Why can’t Bea shoot her? Bullets are fast. Bea also doesn’t seem like the kind of character to just accept the Operative’s word.

Page Twelve

It would have been awesome to see this kind of fight scene in live-action. Reading again, I was reminded of the Buffy/Faith fight scene towards the end of Buffy’s third season, a really extended piece between two very similar people of similar ability. River has Mal though, and through him a way to end things.

Page Thirteen

The Operative seems happy to go to his death as long as its honourable – which means dying with a sword in his hand I guess – and Bea can just put up with it. But then the cavalry arrives, in a manner not dissimilar to the Reavers appearance at Mr Universe’s moon in Serenity.

Page Fourteen/Fifteen

Very nice spread here of the resulting fight, though for me it went against what I would assume would be the normal Purplebelly/Browncoat dynamic. It should be the Alliance that’s the unnumbered horde beating down their opponents through wave attacks and a human steamroller, and the Browncoats who are the overwhelmed ones. But then again, there’s nothing that says you can’t reverse that, as long as its temporary. Much of this scene depends on the reader believing that the Browncoats would be happy to charge and die in the manner that they do, and while Leaves On The Wind alone doesn’t quite accomplish that, the larger canon does.

Page Sixteen

Mal, Jayne, River and River 2, battered and bloodied, walk back to Serenity, flanked with something akin to an honour guard, an important visual moment if there ever was one, with Mal now easily handing out orders. Looks like he might be fighting the war again.

Page Seventeen

A nice middle panel of the remaining crew together here, though I’m never going to get used to that pinprick eye style. It’s refreshing to see River shaken in the way she appears to be here. The maniacal laughter at the end of the page isn’t so much,

Page Eighteen

At least there’s a nice sense of dread to this monologue session, which otherwise doesn’t feel very natural. His short treatise on the Alliance/Resistance dynamic is good enough I guess.

Page Nineteen

It’s hard to take this page seriously, because its lifting the Operative’s actions from Serenity – “When your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to” – and Ozymandias from Watchmen in its last panel, which is so patently obvious I’m surprised the writer did it with a straight face. Is he going to tell Bea to “Grow up” next?

Page Twenty

Also, this doesn’t excuse that there is even any New Resistance on Shinon. It’s one of the two major core worlds. Super controlled. Super Alliance. Nuh uh. Anyway, Mal is back to fighting the war big time it seems, no more running, aiming to misbehave, etc. A nice sense of focus here with Mal wearing a separate colour to everyone else.

Page Twenty-One

Thump! Seriously, those sound captions. So dumb.

Page Twenty-Two

A really nice ending, save for the fact that Mal should have just said “Then think it” and left it at that: I think the audience would have gotten it with the sight of River in the last panel, no need to add “We’ve got a psychic on-board” any more than saying “and she can read your thoughts” would have helped. Also good is Bea to the side in that last panel, looking defeated and hopeless.

An improvement to be sure, a nice action issue even if the same flaws keep reappearing. Tune in next week for the thrilling finale.

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