Issue #20, titled “Prelude,” hints at what’s to come for Mal and the crew. While Mal has been playing sheriff, Zoe and the rest of the crew (sans Chang-Benitez Gang) have been out looking for a homeland for them (and the people who fought on their side in the Second Unification War) using the money earned by Kaylee et al. to fund it.
In this issue, Greg Pak seemingly brings us closer to the Blue Sun Rising event with Kaylee’s foreshadowing words. Mal has run afoul of the most powerful corporation in the ‘Verse plenty of times, and it’s unlikely that they’ll look kindly on that. What could go wrong when you have a bunch of tech-ed out soldiers hunting down a bunch of fugitives, with only a charming sheriff to stand between the law and those that it disenfranchises? Pak frequently poses questions like “Is it enough to follow the law? What if the laws are bad? What if the laws are what the powerful want them to be because it only benefits them? What if the right thing to do seems opposed to the law?” These are questions that a modern society has to come to grips with, and the answers aren’t always simple. Pak’s nuance and light touch with these issues keeps showing us why #StoriesMatter; they quite simply educate while entertaining.
Daniel Bayliss takes over art duty in this issue. Bayliss eschews the dusty aesthetic, going instead with clean lines and crisp layouts. While a departure from the previous issues, it’s not unwelcome as Bayliss presents us with some beautiful visuals and while the likenesses are occasionally a bit spotty, Bayliss captures nuanced facial expressions really well. Francesco Segala’s skills can’t be overstated. He’s nimble enough to adapt and switch things up with changing art styles and his colors always complement the linework instead of fighting it. Whether it's lush jungles or arid wastelands, Segala’s work seems effortlessly atmospheric. As usual, Jim Campbell rounds up an already excellent team, keeping the proceedings clean and clear. I especially enjoyed the back-and-forth between Mal and the Bandit King and how the subtly different fonts ensure that there is no ambiguity about who’s speaking.
Overall, we look to be hurtling towards a brand new storyline, and it looks like everyone is where they need to be to ratchet up the tension and suspense.
Creative Team: Greg Pak (writer), Daniel Bayliss (art), Francesco Segala (colors), Jim Campbell (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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