A few weeks ago, I reviewed a Faith comic for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot. During that review, I talked about the fundamental issue of reviewing Buffy, an issue that exists in the Firefly universe as well. The Whedonisms that are so fundamental to the setting, and so fundamental to the characters in that setting, read deeply differently after everything that we’ve learned about Whedon. The way that Firefly treats its women – with the hooker with the heart of gold and the traumatized ninja waif as key cast members – makes the franchise as a whole a little unnerving.
To be fair, Joss Whedon is not working on Firefly: Brand New ‘Verse. Josh Lee Gordon and Fabiana Mascolo are, I’m sure, perfectly decent people. But, as I said with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer review, even if you have a new creative team, Whedon’s influence remains integral.
And, again, to be fair, this comic is a different beast than the show. It is, very clearly, supposed to be a fresh start for the franchise, and a way for Firefly, the franchise, to be something bigger than Firefly the TV show. Brand New ‘Verse stars the daughter of Zoe Washburne, the deuteragonist of the show, the daughter’s boyfriend, and various other people that, in the grand tradition of sci-fi things since the start, have all crashed together as a sort of found family.
And it’s fine. Emma Washburne, while weirdly sexualized, is a fine protagonist. They do the sort of smuggling and sneaking and conniving that you’d expect from a Firefly show. Inara shows up as the requisite cameo from the original cast.
It’s just so deeply unimaginative. Part of what caught the eye when Firefly aired the first time was that it, with just a few flashbacks and a little exposition, effectively painted the picture of this whole world – a combination of cowboy movies and pulp sci-fi. And instead of exploring this fantastical world, Firefly: Brand New ‘Verse just offers us the next generation.
Honestly, it feels like fanfiction at its worst. It’s imitation, not creation. And ultimately, it creates the cardinal sin of any sort of fiction: It’s not bad. It’s boring.
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