Ten years since Joss Whedon’s western-in-space cult classic Firefly went off the air, the rabidity of its fandom, better known as the Browncoats, hasn’t waned at all. Rather, since the advent of streaming video services like Netflix, the show has found even more fans, as its fourteen episodes and subsequent follow-up film, Serenity, became more easily accessible than ever for those of us who maybe missed the boat back in 2002-2003. Couple that with Joss Whedon’s unparalleled success at the box office with 2012′s Avengers, and you have a fever pitch for all things in which the Firefly maestro has had a hand. But the perennial Change.org petitions to bring Firefly back from the grave aren’t going to get the job done. No, Firefly/Serenity‘s phoenix is rising from the ashes of cancellation in a different form: a comic book.
After teasing fans for months with a #WheresSerenity social media campaign, Dark Horse Comics is kicking off NYCC with a bang, revealing to Nerdist that its much-whispered about Firefly-verse comic is finally here, and it’s even got a Whedon, to boot. Break out a bowl of strawberries to celebrate, because Zack Whedon is officially going to write Serenity: Leaves on the Wind, a six issue mini-series for Dark Horse Comics with the potential to be ongoing. We already knew that the delightful Georges Jeanty (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) would be handling artwork, but pairing the artist with Zack Whedon seems like a match made in nerd heaven. Now, we are faced with the Sisyphean task of containing our excitement until January 29th, when the first issue finally hits stands.
Despite being related to the franchise’s creator, a property like Serenity has a lot of fan expectation attached to it. As one commenter wrote on the #WheresSerenity announcement page, “If you eff this up….consequences.” Granted, most of those consequences will come in the form of angry digital fist-shaking, but no one wants to anger their audience. Fortunately, Whedon has considerable experience working on comic books based on existing franchises like Terminator and Star Wars, so this isn’t his first rodeo based on a beloved title. If anything, Firefly’s well-established world allows Whedon “to find these characters’ voices more easily, probably because I have so much existing material to draw from.”
As for the pressure, Whedon feels up to the task, noting that “the challenge is to create something that feels of a piece with the existing franchise… but the Serenity/Firefly world is where I feel most confident.” He added, “beyond that, the challenge is to make something good, something that feels like it is building on what is already there rather than just mimicking it.” Serenity: Leaves on the Wind allows Whedon to “plow forward into the future of these characters and tell new stories which has been a lot of fun.” Don’t worry, though, he’s cognizant of the degree to which fans have been craving more Firefly in their life: ”I know fans have been starving for story, so I don’t hold back in that regard.”
For the most part, Whedon was left to his own devices in crafting the Leaves on the Wind narrative. Considering how Joss collaborated with other brother Jed on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I was curious if Joss was something of a backseat driver where Leaves on the Wind was concerned. Zack noted that comic books are “one medium where you can reduce the number of cooks in the kitchen, and I love that.” The pair had a general conversation before Zack got started to talk about “stories they were thinking about doing if the series had gone forward and such.” Since that conversation though, Joss has left him alone, partly due to the immense amount on his plate, and has given Zack a chance to make the story his own. Ever humble, Zack also noted, “Hopefully he’ll enjoy what I did… Yikes.”
From what we’ve seen so far, he’s done just that. The subtitle, Leaves on the Wind, is a reference to Wash’s final words (“I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I…”), so, clearly, the story takes place in the aftermath of that fatal encounter with the Reavers. According to Zack Whedon, the story moves forward about nine months later, 39 weeks, which means that if Zoe had gotten pregnant before Wash’s untimely demise, she’d be about to give birth. Spoiler Alert: We are out in the middle of nowhere when the story begins. The crew is hiding out. They dealt a blow to the Alliance at the end of Serenity and now they’re suffering the consequences. A ragtag crew on the lam? Sounds familiar…in a good way.
That being said, we grilled Zack in an effort to find out what we could and could not look forward to from Leaves on the Wind. First and foremost, will there be Wash flashbacks aplenty? “No, not really,” Whedon confessed. “I called it that because I felt like it was a way to honor Wash and the effect his death had on the crew. They are still reeling from that event in many ways, and beyond that they are drifting a bit, pushed all over the ‘verse by forces out of their control.” Sorry you had to find out this way, Wash fans, but honestly, this is better for the grieving process.
Are there any other narrative no-fly zones for Whedon? On the Firefly reunion special last year, Morena Baccarin revealed that if the show were to have continued, that her character, Inara, would have revealed that she had a terminal illness. Is this unused plot thread going to be picked up or discarded? According to Whedon, no, but he hopes “someone else will pick that up in a future run.” And when questioned about whether we’d encounter the Blue Sun Corporation, the author was quite succinct: “Nope!”
So no Blue Sun, no Wash, no terminal Inara – now that we know what we can’t expect, what can we look forward to? What sort of hijinks and adventures can we expect the Serenity crew to get up to in the new book? “Hijinks do not ensue much in this series,” Whedon explains. “They’re too ‘almost dying’ for that.” In the wake of events of the Serenity film, “they are on the defensive a bit, they’ve been painted one way by the media and the Alliance is trying to stamp them out harder than ever,” he said. For those of you hoping for some lighter-hearted adventuring, Whedon remains optimistic. “Hopefully when this adventure is done, they’ll be able to hijinks it up a bit more.”
Speaking of “when this adventure is done,” that is, perhaps, the most burning of questions related to this new announcement: will Leaves on the Wind continue after its six issue run? Potentially, but not with Whedon attached. “I sincerely hope that someone will take the baton when I am done,” the writer told us. “I am leaving a lot on the table to play with and resolve. I think it would be amazing if the book was passed from writer to writer, each one putting their stamp on it, telling the stories they wanted to see in the series.”
Before we go, take a look at this exclusive painted cover of Serenity: Leaves on the Wind from artist Dan Dos Santos: