Writers: Jeff Jensen, Ethan Young, Jared Cullum, Jorge Corona, Giannis Milonogiannis
Illustrators: Jorge Monlongo, Ethan Young, Jared Cullum, Jorge Corona, Giannis Milonogiannis, Jordi Perez
Colorists: Jorge Monlongo, Ethan Young, Jared Cullum, Fabiano Mascolo, Giada Marchisio, Maxflan Araujo
Letterer: Fábio Amelia
Cover By: Miguel Mercado
Published By: Boom! Studios
Available: November 25
Price: $19.99 hardcover; $15.99 digital via Kindle and ComiXology
Looks like we Browncoats are going to have plenty to be thankful for this holiday season, thanks to the shiny people at Boom! Studios. Already gifted with an intriguing new direction for the flagship comic, we now have a beautifully produced collection of tales about everyone’s favorite space jockey/dinosaur enthusiast set to drop this week. Out Wednesday (in digital format; looking like the hardcover will be shipping December 1) is Firefly: Watch How I Soar, a self-contained graphic story collection examining the life and times of one Hoban Washburne, Jr.
Set in the Serenity film timeline, Watch How I Soar takes place moments after the harrowing events outside Mr. Universe’s broadcast station, as Wash’s life passes before his eyes. The stories, which segue one into the next and are connected thematically if not directly, offer insight into the character and history of the character, giving us the whys and wherefores of one of the heretofore unplumbed characters of Joss Whedon’s vasty ‘verse.
In ”Windfall,” written by Jeff Jensen and illustrated by Jorge Monlongo, the chore of cleaning Reaver bits off the ship, an ensuing game of neo-basketball and later, a vacation that never actually was offer a meandering dialogue between Wash and Zoe as our favorite pilot waxes poetic on the meaning behind his trademark phrase.
Ethan Young’s “The Land” presents us a glimpse at a young Hoban Jr.’s travels with his father as the destitute family relocates in the hope of better opportunity. During a stop for repairs, as we see just how financially strained Hoban Sr. is, we catch a glance at the birth of child Wash’s love of dinosaurs and the rough edit of “This Land” (via Hoban the younger’s original, betrayal-free script!).
“Born for the Stars,” written and illustrated by Jared Cullum, shows us a late-teen Wash, still in the throws of his family’s poverty and dreaming of the stars. Recently employed at a salvage yard, we watch as the nascent pilot engages in his first chase and has his first run-in with the Alliance…and is offered a huge opportunity.
In Jorge Corona’s “Take the Sky Away” (colored by Fabiano Mascolo), a mustached, just-hired Hoban Washburn runs a quick solo cargo pickup on his home planet, a big brown marble so polluted that smog blocks any view of the stars or sky. Or at least, it was supposed to be a quick cargo pickup. Instead, the brash and flashy pilot employs some thrilling heroics with in insane shuttle chase, and comes to appreciate that some cargo is worth more than the credits paid to transport it. Oh, and he finds stars of his own in the eyes of one of his new crew members…
“Home,” by Giannis Milonogiannis (colors by Giada Marchisio) features a Firefly series-era Wash and crew, as a group of junkers attempts to disable Serenity and poach the now ‘verse-renowned pilot. Here, we see just how meaningful the ship and its crew have become to the wayward star jockey as he’s presented with a lucrative offer to leave them, or die.
And finally, Wash’s exploration of his life comes full circle in Jeff Jensen and Jordi Perez’s (colors by Maxflan Araujo) “The Flight Lesson,” in which an older, post-Big Damn Heroes Wash trains the next generation of space jockey—his own daughter—in a humorously touching “what should’ve been” tale examining what the combined parenting forces of Wash and Zoe might have produced.
All in all, How I Soar is a nice collection of well-written pastiches examining Wash’s life and character development, offering depth and backstory to a character who’d had little in the way of such previously. The tales are lovingly told by creators as appreciative of their source as any fan, and not without their occasional emotional gut punch, and Alan Tudyk’s conflict-avoidant, star-loving pilot’s sardonic wit issues forth loud and clear in every one.
Now, I’d feel a bit remiss if I didn’t include two quick caveats on this one. One, Watch How I Soar features Wash’s story, and Wash’s story entirely. Those devout Browncoats among you out there needing your fix of Mal, Jayne or River are going to need to seek sustenance elsewhere. Other members of our beloved crew make the occasional token appearance, Zoe more centrally, but no more than that.
Second is the art. Each story is illustrated by a different creator, several by the tale’s writer, and each has their particular style, with often being more stylized than you’d typically find in a Firefly graphic, though still clearly recognizable. If seeing your favorite characters as they were on screen (a la Georges Jeanty’s great work) is integral to your enjoyment of the book, you might struggle with these pieces. I’ll own that I did at first, though they’re growing on me considerably as I look back over them.
Firefly: Watch How I Soar will be available in hardcover Wednesday at your fine, friendly LCS as well as Amazon for the low, low price of $19.99 and in digital format via ComiXology and Kindle for the even lower, lower, lower price of $15.99.
Review by Andy Patch