Saturday, January 12, 2013

Firefly Special: The Other Half

Sci-Fi Saturday

Charged with protecting a hover-stage coach, the crew of the Serenity is made to deal with the incoming threat of the Reavers as well as a group of Alliance agents determined to take River into custody.

Previous: Better Days

Still working to earn the trust of the rest of the crew, River is often on her own in dangerous situations, in part due to the efforts of others to protect her and also caused by her own ability to dispose of threats quietly. Here she's made to confront something on her own again, likely to cause even greater awareness of the crew's location later down the line, and her fear of being cast out from her family and friends because of her actions is probably the thing that scares her the most.

The character voices in this story are absolutely perfect, sounding exactly as they would have in the series proper. Each of the characters are so distinct that it's not difficult to understand who's speaking at any point, and paired with the quality art it has the feel of the series despite the absence of the real actors.

As the story closes Mal welcomes River to the crew, stating that he had known that something bad was going to happen and that he had planted her very specifically to use her skill set. Whether or not he's aware of the full extent of her abilities remains a mystery, but that's not necessarily the important detail for him; Mal knows that River can be useful to him, that she wants to help in any way that she can, and even though Simon's likely not ready to have his sister participate in such dangerous situations, it's not always up to him. Mal understands that River knew exactly what he was setting her up for here, and as such he thanks her for agreeing to be a part of it and watch their backs in a way that no one else could. Not much needs to be said between the two of them to understand the threat that may have befallen the crew were River not a part of this mission, and having them become silent partners in this way is very interesting.

The story is only eight pages long when it could have been much longer, especially considering that most stories in this format are around twenty-two pages. Because of the extremely short length the story ends up feeling incredibly rushed, and the overall reading experience suffers because of it. There was far more story to tell here, and the fact that it was made so short is simply confusing, as it could have been a much greater tale.

River's psychic powers were never fully explored in the series, the exact process of them being left to the viewer's imagination, and it was a presentation that absolutely worked as it allowed the actress a chance to choose the ways in which she wanted to play it all out. Here she is explicitly shown to be able to hear the thoughts of those around her, and it simply doesn't have the same feel to it. Here her abilities feel somewhat shoehorned in in an effort to expedite the conclusion, and it's just a little sloppy in the delivery.

Will Conrad's art here is great, the likenesses of the actors are spot on and the overall look of the story is incredibly appealing. The attention to detail in expression is very good, and it seems as though Conrad very much enjoyed the experience he had in drawing this.

The action of this issue is easy enough to follow, and the layout is fairly simply without being boring. Were this a full issue it likely could have done some interesting things, but as it is it's acceptable.

Written by Jim Krueger, this story plays out very much like a teaser before the start of an episode, something like a set up to a larger story that would play out after the title sequence finished. Starting in media res is a fun way to plot the story, allowing for a wallop of action right off the bat and dispensing of the set up, expositing just enough every now and then to get the point across without becoming a distraction.

River is ingratiating herself into the crew more and more with every passing story, becoming a valued part of the field missions, and while Simon certainly wouldn't approve of her use in such a manner, it's clever the ways that Mal finds to get around him for his own purposes.

Next: Downtime


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