‘Firefly: Watch How I Soar’ - Graphic Novel Review

In a nutshell, Watch How I Soar is a standalone piece that explores Hoban “Wash” Washburne Jr.’s dying thoughts as the most important moments of his life flash before him. It’s also a metaphysical headtrip at times and serves as a eulogy of sorts to a fan-favorite character. Its placement right before the end of the current arc of the main Firefly series also seems timely, considering the solicitations for the next arc.

The book is composed of six short stories that explore various points in Wash’s life/afterlife. Jeff Jensen writes the opening (“Windfall”) and closing (“The Flight Lesson”) narratives, and they’re a helluva way to start and end: sensitively written without being schmaltzy, and the leaf imagery that carries through has levity and gravity all at once, perfectly embodying Wash’s legacy. “Windfall” is illustrated by Jorge Monlongo, and his work here perfectly embodies the vibe of the narrative. Jordi Pérez draws the closing story, and the character-work is excellent, with great stylized likenesses and some excellent tender moments. Maxflan Araujo’s colorwork serves as a warm hug to the reader; it’s joyful and immensely sensitive and the confluence of writing, art, and color in that final page… that’s a thing of rare, shiny beauty!

The chapters in between seem to be in chronological order, starting with Ethan Young’s tale, “The Land,” which introduces a pivotal fascination of Wash’s but also imbues the character with his characteristic optimism and goodness. Young also illustrates the story, and his artwork captures the grit of the ‘Verse. Honestly, there’s just so much to see in this story. Jared Cullum gives us an ambitious young Wash in “Born for the Stars,” detailing a period of his life when he yearned to see the stars. Cullum’s story is gorgeously rendered in a watercolor-y style, lending a sepia-toned sense to probably Wash’s most optimistic memory. This is in stark contrast to the story that follows, “Take the Sky Away,” written and illustrated by Jorge Corona and colored by Fabiana Mascolo, which depicts a more jaded Wash, and yet his love of the “stars” remains, however recontextualized in a more romantic sense. It’s a yarn about love for family, for freedom, and for possibilities unknown. In “Home,” Wash finds himself in hot demand as a group of junkers try to recruit him to join their “bandit family.” Written and illustrated by Giannis Milonogiannis and colored by Giada Marchisio, it’s a lighthearted romp that, above all, depicts Wash’s ingenuity and extreme loyalty to his family, and as a final look at Wash before the aforementioned closing chapter by Jensen et al., it’s an apt reminder of who this man was and what he stood for. I would be remiss to forget that Fábio Amelia beautifully lettered the entire book and that consistency really helps to tie the seemingly separate narratives together, in giving Wash his “voice” and making his part of the ‘Verse that much more compelling.  

Overall, I would have paid the price of admission for an extra-long issue just featuring the first and last chapters of Wash’s story; however, the chapters in between all add to our understanding of this remarkable character, and I think that every single one of them will appeal to fans of the series.

Creative Team: Jeff Jensen, Ethan Young, Jared Cullum, Jorge Corona, Giannis Milonogiannis (writers), Jorge Monlongo, Ethan Young, Jared Cullum, Jorge Corona, Giannis Milonogiannis, Jordi Pérez (artists), Fabiana Mascolo, Giada Marchisio, Maxflan Araujo (colors), Fábio Amelia (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Click here to purchase.

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