Joss Whedon – Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale
Length: 56 pages
Genre: Sci-Fi, Graphic Novel
Started/Finished: 13 February 2013
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I was in the mood for graphic novels. Also, yay Browncoats!
We finally get
answers about Firefly’s
Summary: The untimely cancellation of Firefly left fans with a lot of questions unanswered. Some of these were dealt with in Serenity, but Shepherd Book’s origin story remained mysterious. What did he do before becoming a Shepherd? How does he know so much about weaponry and tactics? Why does the Alliance defer to him once they scan his ident card in the episode “Safe”? This short graphic novel attempts to answer all of these questions and more, starting at that fateful day on Haven, and working backwards through time, looking at the key events that set Book on his life’s path.
Review: I wish I hadn’t read this. I am a huge Firefly fan, so I couldn’t help myself… but once I had, I wished I hadn’t. Not that it was bad. The story itself was solid, and showed believable character growth (or character reduction, since it’s moving backwards in time?) that explains how Book got to here from there.
But. There’s a but. While I was as curious as anyone about Book’s past, I actually liked the fact that it was left mysterious. Whether or not Joss would have revealed which pieces of it if the series had been allowed to continue is a matter of pure speculation at this point. But I thought that the exchange between Mal and Book in the movie Serenity kind of put paid to the issue.
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: It’s of interest to me how much you seem to know about that world.
Shepherd Book: I wasn’t born a shepherd, Mal.
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: You have to tell me about that sometime.
Shepherd Book: [pause] No, I don’t.
Some things remain mysterious, and we don’t always get our questions answered. And I was okay with that. And the problem I had with this book is that fans have had so long to speculate, that to be provided the answers flat out, in this very short book, felt anticlimactic and not entirely satisfying, relative to the possible answers that I’d imagined. (Plus, either I missed something, or the backstory as given here doesn’t really gel with the fact that the Alliance would instantly render help to the point of letting the Serenity go without inspection upon seeing Book’s ID, as established in the series.)
The art in this one was kind of a mixed bag. Book himself is really well done, and the backwards aging is nicely handled; even though the art is relatively simple, you can still see aspects of older Book in the younger versions. The other characters don’t fare as well; they’re only present briefly, but are typically recognizable only by their clothes. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: For Firefly fans only. And even there, I’d say only for Firefly fans who really want the official answers about Shepherd Book. While it wasn’t bad on its own merits, I personally preferred the ambiguity.
Other Reviews: The Little Red Reviewer, Once Upon a Bookshelf, Tales of the Marvelous, The Written World, and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: “Shepherd, when’s the Captain and them comin’ round again?”
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