‘Firefly: The Sting’ - Advance Hardcover Review

The nitty-gritty: This is a pretty massive graphic novel with 110 pages of story that reads entirely like a feature film starring the female crew of the Serenity who team up with Saffron for a one-night caper that is most certainly a wild ride. When exactly it’s set isn’t absolutely stated, but given certain context cues, it’s definitely set before the Serenity movie but presumably after Book had left the crew.  

Given the current focus of BOOM!’s Firefly series on the Second Unification War, this was a nice palate cleanser, as the focus on the female crew members is long overdue. We start off with Inara treating her fellow ladies to a nice spa day, but their day of relaxation is quickly derailed by their own doubts and fears. Plus, the arrival of Saffron with a new proposition sounds entirely too good to be true: help her pull off a mega-heist and they’ll all be set for life. Otherwise, Saffron will blow up the Serenity with the rest of the crew on it. Not much of a choice, but Saffron's gonna Saffron.  So begins a one-night adventure that could doom them all or bond them forever.

Delilah S. Dawson’s depiction of the team is true to their characters, and their voices sound authentic. What at first seems like an epic fail of the Bechdel test ultimately becomes a story of women propping each other up and of sisterhood. It’s a bit of a simmer, but I think you’ll find the payoff quite rewarding.  I really enjoyed the layered writing of these fantastic characters, and I think that Dawson achieved a pretty good balance in giving each woman her moment to shine. Something to note is the delicate balance between portraying a River who’s beginning to claw her way out of the fog in her mind and the capable assassin she becomes later on in canon. The glimpses into the personal artifacts of the crew were also a creative way to break up the narrative at points with more intimate soliloquies. What’s also interesting to me is that Saffron, despite being the main motivator and antagonist of sorts, is still pretty much a cipher. If you’re hoping to get some additional insight into the character, I’d recommend checking out Bad Company, published earlier this year.

 As I said earlier, this is a big book, and as such, it makes sense to break up the art duties. Art by different contributors are broken up into different “chapters,” though the chapters are not explicitly stated. The art changes generally occur at natural breaks in the story but can occasionally be a bit jarring when the style switches dramatically. Everyone’s going to have an opinion about which style is their favorite, and since art appreciation is subjective, I’m not going to name any favorites here. Some pages were definitely better rendered than others, and some of the artists were better with likenesses than others. It’s been a general trend across the many artists who have worked on Firefly/Serenity series that Zoe and Inara tend to be easier to capture, whereas there’s always a bit more difficulty in capturing Kaylee. River tends to be the hardest, I think, as her likeness is often spotty. Jim Campbell’s lettering is clear and evocative as ever, and it’s no mean feat keeping all of that dialogue going without blocking the action and keeping all of the characters straight.

Overall, a fitting addition to the Firefly canon, shining the spotlight on some of the less-developed characters, proving unequivocally that these women aren’t just the beautiful complements to their male counterparts; they are wholly awesome in their own right.  


Creative Team: Delilah S. Dawson (writer), Pius Bak, Serg Acuna, Richard Ortiz, Hyeonjin Kim, Rodrigo Lorenzo (art), Pius Bak, Joana Lafuente, Doug Garbark, Natalia Marques (colors), Jim Campbell (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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