The rundown: This is an exploration of a very specific time in the life of an oft-sidelined character. Simon Tam takes center stage here, and the good doctor is on a mission to save his Mei-Mei from the clutches of the Alliance.
This special issue gives us a deep look at just how much Simon had to give up in order to bust his sister out of captivity. While David M. Booher’s script reads a bit by the numbers, it actually feels apt for Simon’s story; the man is a strait-laced doctor with a huge amount of love for his sister. We all know the story: Despite having achieved his life’s ambitions, Simon throws it all away to save River from the Alliance. Booher’s script paints in the details of a couple of years of Simon’s life, focusing on his single-minded determination that’s driven by his need to rescue River. Booher adds in some nice memories that really solidify o the relationship between the siblings. More than anything, Booher imbues Simon with a quiet grit that’s mostly just alluded to in his story arc on the show/film.
Andrés Genolet’s likenesses aren’t exact carbon copies of the characters, but what he does so well is to give them incredibly compelling expressions and emotional resonance. Simon doesn’t have the roguish charm of some of the other Serenity crew, and Genolet honors that here, instead infusing just about every panel of Simon with a quiet strength and sensitivity that feels so accurate. It’s also really cool to see the character mature over the course of 40 pages. Two pages stand out in particular, and these panels of Simon and how he deals with an identical stressful situation encapsulate that growth. Mattia Iacono’s colorwork sells the loneliness that Simon feels on most of the pages, with cool and neutral palettes dominating the colorscape. The only warmth seems to come from scenes of Simon’s reveries about his sister which really does help us keep the emotional anchor in clear sight. Jim Campbell’s lettering is stellar, as usual, and I appreciate the usage of a scrawl for Simon’s internal monologues, giving a sense of intimacy to Simon’s private thoughts.
Final thoughts: “River Run” is a much-appreciated look at Simon’s life before joining the Serenity crew, giving him a rare moment in the spotlight. Much of Simon’s motivations have always been driven by his desire to protect River, and that’s pretty much carried over here.
Creative Team: David M. Booher (writer), Andrés Genolet (artist), Mattia Iacono (colors), Jim Campbell (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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