Customer Reviews: Serenity, Vol. 1: Those Left Behind
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Well, I unfortunately have to add my negative review to the other disappointed FIREFLY/SERENITY/Whedon fans below. Like many of the others reviewing here, I am a huge fan of both the series FIREFLY and the film SERENITY, so I was eager to enjoy a new adventure of Mal and his crew. I ordered this with great excitement and finished it with considerable sadness. I had hoped that this might equal in quality some of Whedon's other projects on Dark Horse, but this was easily one of the weakest. The problem isn't the artwork. It is gorgeous to look at and the characters all look quite like the real life models (not that that is a necessary measure of quality). The problem was the utterly uninspiring story.

Here is my suspicion: I'm guessing that the novel partly arose from an unfilmed, partially scripted episode from the television series, and a not terribly good episode at that. Many of the scenes seem to merely mimic scenes to be found in the series and the film, while the scenes that are completely original simply aren't very inspired. The story is also very unbalanced. If you read writing guides on how to write a TV script or a film script or a short story one rule of thumb is that a script needs to have three to five acts (depending on the writing coach). This graphic story feels as if Act One takes up the first two thirds of the book, with too little space devoted to the climax, and an act or two missing. To be honest, it doesn't feel like a completed story at all.

So does the book have any redeeming values? As I stated above, it is a well-drawn story. The problem is entirely the story, not the art. Storywise, it does provide some filler between the end of the series and before the start of the action in the movie. That is not a small thing, but the problem is that there just isn't much of a story. In fact, the whole thing feels more like an outline of a story rather than a story.

Do I recommend this to fellow Browncoats? I guess I don't. Now, if someone had told me not to get it, I would probably have ignored him or her and gotten it anyway, so I won't blame any FIREFLY fan wanting this as well. But while the series and the movie are things I treasure, this is a story I may never look at again. So while I don't recommend it, any real fan of the show is going to want to own it. Then we can all be disappointed together while we await word as to whether the DVD sales of the movie will be sufficient to bring about a made for TV movie or mini-series.
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on February 2, 2006
This graphic novel serves as a useful bridge between the final episode of "Firefly" and the film "Serenity." As a Browncoat, I've found it especially useful for showing new fans of the series because it answers the questions that they'd have from the last episode and the film (which starts everyone off on a different note than they were left in the show). For instance: "When and why did Book leave the ship?" This book isn't going to take the place of the television show for the fans that want to see our Big Damn Heroes played by the actors themselves, but it serves as the final episode that they were never able to make.
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on August 23, 2006
Quick admission: I'm a huge fan of the Firefly TV series and "Serenity". I think both were horribly underappreciated, and can't understand why they weren't more successful.

This graphic novel was penned by Joss Whedon, so the dialog, tone, and timing are dead on. In many ways, reading Serenity: Those Left Behind is like watching an unaired episode of the TV show. The story deals with the events that take place after the final episode of Firefly: Objects in Space, but before the movie. All of the Serenity crew are in fine form, and even several characters from past episodes show up.

The only reason I can't give this book a 5 is the art. I'm not a big fan of the artist. While I can definitely understand the difficulty of drawing a comic based on real people, I've seen better.

All in all, a great story, and a must-have for all Firefly/Serenity fans!
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on January 10, 2013
The plot of Those Left Behind was probably intended to be an early-season-2 episode of Firefly that unfortunately was never shot. As such, it features a job gone bad, an enemy from the past, and some fancy fightin' and flyin'. This, of course, translates quite well to the graphic novel medium. The illustration and dialogue are both well done and true to the series.
The true gem of this work, though, is Joss' Brief History of the Universe, Circa 2516. It explains a lot of things about his high-concept vision of Firefly and Serenity, and how the world came to be as it was. This information was never conveyed in the series explicitly, and although it was implied, it was quite nice to have it all spelled out.
I am looking forward to future Serenity graphic novels, as I, like many others, feel the show was cancelled far to soon and there are plenty of stories left to tell about these characters.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon March 31, 2006
As you are probably getting from other reviews there is sort of a mixed bag here. I won't be saying much different myself. What it boils down to is if you are interested in knowing what happened between the television series Firefly and the movie Serenity you get your answer here. The downside is the plot of this little graphic novel is not Joss Whedon's best.

Essentially this book puts together all three comics from the Serenity comic book mini-series that came out a little bit before the movie. The artwork is great. The dialog flows exactly as if you were watching an episode of Firefly. You also get a couple questions a few fans have been answering like how/when did Sheppard Book leave and what happened to the men with the blue gloves?

What limits the book is the main story around this. It's rather cliche and kind of comes from way out into left field. It doesn't make too much sense if you think about it and it really doesn't further the Firefly story. Keep in mind I'm talking about the main story and conflict of this series. Not those questions this series answers for fans.

So... should you buy this graphic novel or not? I say if you're a fan of the Firefly series and have the money burning in your pocket then go for it. Granted the comic book series probably has more collectable value (especially the alternate covers), but this book puts it all in one convenient place.

If you never been exposed to Firefly, but saw the movie and liked it then you got a situation because this book will answer questions you never asked, so then you're stuck with a weak plotline. You're better off saving for the Firefly DVD set, which is well worth the expense. If you never seen either the movie or the series, but are a comic fan... well just pass this one up.
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on February 4, 2006
Okay, I don't eat, sleep, and breathe Firefly like some of the reviewers do, but I loved the series and the Serenity movie. I think that this graphic novel fills in the gap between the series and movie quite well. Some of the artwork on the various characters is hit-and-miss. The artist(s) seemed to have an especially tough time with Inara. But, the story's good and the artwork is otherwise first-rate. I liked the full-page interstigial drawings of each of the characters, especially Wash, Kaylee, and Zoe. I hope that they're released as posters!
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on April 9, 2006
...some stuff happen between the end of Firefly and the beginning of Serenity?

It's like one of those gaps in your jaw, when a tooth has broken off or a major filling has fallen out. Your tongue keeps poking with progressively growing obsession and habit, and when the dentist (I have a very friendly sone, so no dentist-jokes here!) finally fills the gap it's a great relief. Something becomes complete. Of course, it's artificial and not the real thing, but it's better than that horrible feeling of a void, of incompleteness.

This book fufills that need. I'd rather have had a load of Firefly episodes, but we can't have those, right? So, here's a filler, and as fillers go it does the job admirably. Thanks to Joss for giving us that. You're even nicer than my dentist.

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"Firefly" was cancelled halfway through its first and only season. The final few episodes did not get aired, which seemed a fitting ending, because when the series began they skipped the pilot movie to air some other episodes first. When we finally got to see the episodes that did not air, we discovered that River Tam was something more than some sort of insane person with psychic tendencies. One of the things we know about Joss Whedon television shows from watching "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" is that there is a story arc for the first half of a season, which combines with a second half story arc to up the ante. Consequently, just as "Firefly" was getting interesting, FOX pulled the plug. Having already killed off "Dark Angel" to make room for "Firefly," it was adding insult to injury (or visa versa).

But "Firefly" fans were legion, they were vocal, and they bought enough copies of the DVD set of the abbreviated series and that gave Whedon the backing to do "Serenity," a theatrical movie that would bring some closer to the "Firefly" saga. However, the opening of the movie established that Inara and Shepherd Book were no longer aboard the good ship "Serenity." We would find out where they were in the course of the movie, but that still begged the question as to how it came to be that they left Captain Mal Reynolds and the rest of the crew behind. This would be the sort of things that fans would be able to speculate about for years, as did "Star Trek" fans filling in the gap between the original series and the first movie. However, Whedon has saved us from such fun.

"Serenity: Those Left Behind" is more a prequel to the "Serenity" movie than it is a an attempt to cover everything in between. More specifically, it is the story that explains why Inara and Shepherd Book parted company with Mal. Whedon came up with the story with Brett Matthews, who does the script, with art by Will Conrad. We bbegin with Mal, Zoe and Jayne in the middle of another sticky situation, which they manage to get out of with their lives, but not the money they were supposed to be paid. We then learn that the pair of blue gloved government agents who are after Simon and River Tam, hire an assassin with an artificial eye named Agent Dobson to find the pair. His incentive is that he will get to kill Mal Reynolds (who is, of course, responsible for the eye), so the confrontation between these two is inevitable and the meeting place is the wrecked spaceships of the Battle of Sturges.

Because of Whedon's involvement this story gets to be part of the "Firefly" canon and for that reason I round up on "Serenity: Those Left Behind." But I had to admit the story really seems like a standard "Firefly" episode, with a couple of specific things tacked on at the end to set up the situation for the film, and nothing like the film before the film. The main plot line really does not provide the impetus to justify Inara and Shepherd Book leaving "Serenity," and I would think a better job of doing that could have come from a pair of single issue stories. Still, fans will be inspired to check this out and hopefully their disappointments will be tempered accordingly. Yes, in case you were wondering, all of the variant covers of the "Serenity" crew for the three issues, half of which are really nice, are to be found within the pages of this trade paperback collection. Nathan Fillion provides an Introduction on the joys of finally becoming a comic book superhero that is a nice additon to the proceedings as well.
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on February 25, 2007
Look... I'm a HUGE Firefly fan. It's my favorite tv show of all time. Seriously! However the comic just didn't do anything for me. It's not that it was bad, it was just forgetful and short and uninteresting. I wanted to love it... I wanted to find something to fill the gap since Serenity, but this isn't it.
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on September 1, 2012
If there were another episode in the series, this would be a perfect fit. It's a short read but so worth the effort to get this book. Highly recommend to any fans of the series.
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