Books: Graphic Novel | Science Fiction | Tie-In

Better Days (2008), Float Out (2010), The Shepherd's Tale (2010)

Better Days, Vol 1 (2008) Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, Will Conrad, Michelle Madsen

Better Days 1Being a Firefly fan, when I heard there was another Serenity comic coming out, I wanted to know where I could sign up. Well, I pre-ordered from TFAW, and Better Days Volume 1 arrived today. I immediately opened and commenced reading. I believe Michael may have attempted speaking to me at some point, but who knows for sure, because I was paying attention to nothing by the comic.

Better Days takes place before the movie, and before the first Serenity comic (i.e. Wash is alive [yay!] and Inara is still with the crew) and I assume is one of the episodes that Joss had wanted to write for the show.

The crew is in the middle of a heist, when their plans are complicated by the test run of a new prototype. It wasn't clear to me whether this was suppose to be a war machine or a police machine. Regardless, it doesn't bode well for the crew. But then nothing ever seems to go well for the crew, so at least they're used to it.

I think what I like best is that we're getting to see where Firefly would have gone if it hadn't suffered such an untimely demise. (Stupid Fox.) I'm don't think I'm ready yet for a Firefly without Wash and Shepherd Book, and there were plenty more stories to tell between Firefly and Serenity. And I am content with the ending of Serenity, so I'm not sure that I'm quite ready to move on from there. Of course I would have preferred Serenity after a five or seven year run of Firefly, but we didn't get that. So.

What did I think about Better Days?

I liked it. I miss these characters and this universe. And it doesn't feel forced, like we're milking the series for all it's worth. As I said, there were plenty of missing episodes between the end of Firefly and the movie. So it's nice to get some of the stories we deserved.

And the crew is at their height here. The dialog–although a comic can never give you as much dialog as a TV show–is witty and fun as always. The story is, of course, confusing. But it's only part one of three, so we've got a way to go before things resolve.

To sum up, if you're a Firefly fan, then you'll want to check out Better Days. If you aren't a Firefly fan–what the hell is wrong with you?!

Rating: 7/10

Better Days, Vol 2 (2008) Joss Whedon, Bret Matthews, Will Conrad, Michelle Madsen

Better Days 2The second issue in a three part series, Vol 2 continues the story of the crew between the end of the series and the movie. Now that they have escaped their last gig, they're off to spend the loot

The best part is seeing how the various crew members want to spend their share of the loot.

Unfortunately, that's about all I can tell you about the story, without giving away the first volume, or the plot of this story.

Needless to say, there's a cliff hanger ending. Luckily I only have a month (!) to wait for the next and final volume.

Rating: 7/10 

Serenity: Better Days Vol 3 (2008) Joss Whedon

Better Days 3And now I have to close yet another chapter of the Firefly/Serenity story.

I actually had to go back and reread the previous two, because I had forgotten some of the details, but that only drew me back further into a story and character that I enjoy. Only bad thing is that I still want more Firefly stories, but am unlikely to get them. (sigh)

When we last saw our heroes, Mal was in trouble, so in vol 3, Zoe plans how to get him back.

There were several things I particularly liked about this story. First, Mal gets to go back to the gray moral territory where he lived for much of the show. Much of the movie focused upon Mal doing the right thing, here we see him on much more questionable ground. Which is where I like him best, to be honest.

Second, we see Shepherd book in a light that reinforces my idea of what his life may have been like before he joined his monastery. Maybe I'm wrong, but if so, don't tell me. Because I like what I came up with just fine, thank you very much.

We also see part of the reason why Inara and Book left Serenity. Because Those Left Behind just didn't give a very good explanation. We saw the aftermath, but we don't see what lead to Book and Inara leaving. This gives us a bit more of a clue.

But mostly, I just got to spend time with Wash and Zoe and Book and all my other characters. And really, who could ask for more? Other than for Firefly to have been allowed to finish it's run. But as that is impossible, this will have to do for now.

Rating: 9/10

The Shepherd's Tale (2010) Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, Chris Samnee

Shepherds TaleThe long awaited story of Shepherd Book's past.

First. Too short. Way too short. Extremely too short.

We are given brief glimpses of his past and how he became the man who boarded Serenity. I suppose Book is supposed to be remembering his past as he lies dying, but I don't think that justifies the brevity of the story. Especially when there are five whole pages showing us the attack that killed him. The story really could have been fleshed out far more than it was, giving as a much better story than we got. Shepherd Book deserves more than the short shrift he got here.

And even worse, I don't quite believe the explanation given as to why he was treated the way he was by the alliance in Safe.


I just don't buy it. They may have “swept (the incident) under the rug” without a trial, but he was still summarily discharged and they were hoping to send him to his death. Why his ident card would give the Alliance cause to treat him like an honored veteran I can't see. I have a hard time believing that they left his records in any form that would have given him any assistance at all–no less the type of reception he was given.

And remember, not only did they give him excellent medical care, but they also let Serenity go without argument. I have a hard time believing that his record gave him that kind of status.


So, sadly, I found it mostly disappointing, and felt that Shepherd Book deserved better.

Published by Dark Horse Books

Rating: 5/10