‘The Firefly Holiday Special #1:' Advance Comic Book Review

The rundown: Think Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with Jayne Cobb as your misguided, possibly misunderstood, and definitely maligned star.

Jayne has been a bit player for a while now, not featuring particularly memorably in the recent stories about the Serenity crew, so it’s unsurprising that he’s the apt choice for a retelling of a classic Christmas story about a curmudgeon who begins to see the errors of his ways through the guidance and wisdom of three visiting ghosts. Several familiar faces – past, present, and future – make appearances here as they guide Jayne towards a more… amicable future.

The story by Jeff Jensen is a pretty by-the-book interpretation of the Dickens tale, with a few well-cast bits that really give the story heart. Jayne is a man of few words, so Jensen wisely writes most of the script as narration. This is, after all, a cautionary tale of sorts, no? Jensen’s script does pack a lot of empathy for Jayne into 40 pages, with some rather affecting tidbits about his past and why his only sweet spot is only for his mother. It’s not overly ambitious, but it does achieve its goals.

Art duties are split between Jordi Pérez, Vincenzo Federici, and Fabiana Mascolo, with (as best as I can tell) Pérez handling the present-day sequences and Federici and Mascolo handling the past and future sequences, respectively. All three artists’ styles do lend themselves quite well to depicting different eras of Jayne’s life. Pérez’s grittier take perfectly encapsulates present-day Jayne and his nihilist tendencies. This is paired perfectly with colors by Francesco Segala (who has colored most of the recent Firefly series) with assistance by Gloria Martinelli, capturing the grimy feel we’ve come to associate with much of the ‘Verse. Federici’s take on Jayne’s past feels much more pristine and innocent, with much brighter colorwork by Lucia Di Giammarino underscoring a less bitter period of Jayne’s life. Fabiana Mascolo’s future sequence feels very bright and airy, a feeling of lightness without the weight of a burdensome presence, and that has to be intentional because Mascolo does give us a particularly dark and horrifying scene to show us where the dead weight has gone.

Jim Campbell’s lettering is top-notch as per yoosh, with clear reading direction and a couple of joint exclamation moments that happen off-panel really give a sitcom kind of feel, without taking the focus away from the main action happening on-panel.

Final thoughts: The Holiday Special isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but with the holidays coming up and nostalgia running high, I don’t think it needs to be. Sometimes, a nice warm hug from a familiar presence beats novelty.  

Creative Team: Jeff Jensen (writer), Jordi Pérez, Vincenzo Federici, Fabiana Mascolo (artists), Francesco Segala, Gloria Martinelli, Lucia Di Giammarino, Fabiana Mascolo (colors), Jim Campbell (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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