Serenity: No power in the ‘Verse written by Chris Robinson, art by Georges Jeanty, Karl Story, Wes Dzioba, Michael Heisler and Stephen Byrne (Graphic Novel, 2017).
I don’t often read graphic novels, but I enjoyed this one a lot. The fifth in an ongoing series, No Power in the ‘Verse is colorful, beautifully produced and meaty. The title novel checks in at over 140 pages, plus there’s a charming little 10-pager and a gallery of cover art from other volumes in the series. The publisher, Dark Horse, is known as a leading source of high-quality graphic literature/comics and this one definitely upholds that tradition.
It’s all based on the continuing adventures of spaceship captain Mal Reynolds, his ship (the Serenity) and his heroic crew of rebels, misfits, smugglers and freedom fighters. First there was the short-lived but beloved TV series. Then a movie. And now, following on with honorable fidelity to the characters fans know so well, are the graphic novels.
The preliminary action this time focuses on effective character development, including a look at how they’re making a so-so living on the run. Then a call from an old friend (Iris) leads them to yet another obscure planet on the Outer Rim. Even this far out, the evil operatives of the Alliance are increasingly in charge. They’ve captured Bea, Iris’s partner and another longtime friend of the crew, to use as a pawn in taking down a new underground resistance movement that’s plotting terrorist attacks.
As much as ex-soldier Reynolds and company hate the prospect of killing civilians, they are forced to make common cause (if only for the moment) with the leader of the local terror cell to free their friend. Even so, things backfire when one of their own (genetically engineered psychic and super-soldier River Tam) is temporarily brainwashed into rejoining the Alliance and attacking them.
So the mission changes to a double rescue of Bea and the remorseful River–all while the terrorists are unleashing their own murderous attacks.
Of course our intrepid heroes win out with their usual mix of smarts, nerve, pure guile and slam-bank action (including a back-to-normal River kicking serious butt). When all is over, Mal decides he’s had enough of living under the ever-expanding Alliance’s radar. He and his people aren’t about to stoop to random terrorism, but it’s time they find a way to fight back. This effectively sets the stage for the next book in the series.
As a bonus, script writer Robertson and his talented visual art collaborators offer up a sweet little story that finds River telling a fairy-tale-pirate version of the crew’s backstory to Emma (the daughter of Serenity First Mate Zoe). It’s tender-hearted River’s way of explaining to the toddler what happened to her late father (if you’ve seen the feature film part of the Serenity you know how Zoe’s beloved ‘Huckleberry’ sacrificed himself to save the rest of them).
Plus there’s the recap of other volumes’ cover art.
It’s all-together a grand package for all dedicated Browncoats–and still a fairly accessible SF adventure for those less-immersed in Firefly-Class lore.