245 of 271 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Those who watched Firefly and Serenity are aware of Book's implied rich past. As the series was unfortunately canceled, we find out very little and all sorts of questions remain open. When I first saw this novel available for sale, I expected it to provide some relief for my curiosity.
To put it bluntly, I am very disappointed. The biggest problem is the extremely short length. You could easily fit all the text on a single page and I could tell you the whole story in 60 seconds. One would expect a book published with the purpose of filling in the gaps of a story to do the thing properly. This doesn't even come close. Furthermore, there are a number of inconsistencies, and we arguably end up with more questions than before.
/* SLIGHT SPOILER */
We know that Book had ties to the Alliance (from that Firefly episode where they heal his wounds), but we find out that there was a "falling out" and they (quite literally) threw him out. Why they would treat him as a VIP, save his life and then let them go (as was done in Firefly) is a complete mystery and we're, once again, left hanging.
/* END SPOILER */
Basically, this is a bad fanfic. Save your money and pretend it doesn't exist.
136 of 153 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2010
It's $15 for 56 pages. Please stop and consider that for a moment. I know it's Serenity. I know it's hard bound. This is a great property and a great publisher, but this is an obvious attempt to overcharge a fan base. Other licensed titles in hardcover format do not cost this much. I will not buy this book as I don't want to see more of this. Eventually it will be collected in a trade or an omnibus. I can wait. I read it in the store yesterday, which I am not a fan of, but in this case I felt obligated.
As someone else pointed out, the big question from the tv show, namely why is Book given a warm reception on the alliance ship, isn't even answered. It actually seems to contradict the show. It isn't worth $14.99 or even $8.49 with the Amazon discount. There is no reason this couldn't have been a $5.99 double issue, other than to exploit die-hard fans. If you have tons of cash, you're already gonna order this, but if you are a Serenity/Firefly fan on a budget, you are gonna feel ripped off. Please just browse this in a store and see for yourself.
58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2010
Others have pointed out the problems with this - big and small - before, but I just read it and I want to vent a little bit.
There is nothing about this comic book that warrants it to be a published comic book where they charge people money. There is no story to speak of (unless you count a screwy plan to turn Shepherd Book into a cyborg double agent....which is actually the climax of the comic) and the artwork literally looks like the storyboards for a movie that were drawn up over coffee just before filming. (The artist might have great talent, I don't know, but it's definitely not in the comic.)
The biggest point of a Shepherd Book comic is obviously to reveal (a) what horrible sins he committed that he was repenting for throughout the series and (b) why the Alliance held him in such high esteem that they overlooked his involvement with a gang of thugs to give him VIP medical care. The comic book does a lousy job of answering the first and doesn't answer the second and, in fact, contradicts the TV show.
The first point was based off of an enigmatic incident in the episode 'Safe'. In that episode, Shepherd Book has been wounded and, hoping for some mercy, the crew takes him to an Alliance spaceship that has medical facilities. The Alliance rejects their plea for help until they look at Shepherd's "ident-card" at which point he's given emergency VIP treatment. Why would the Alliance treat some religious guy with such esteem?
So, you think that maybe Shepherd is maybe some sort of Alliance spy. Or maybe he was an assassin and did a favor for some high-level Alliance politician and that's the sin he's repenting for, too. (This latter notion would also match up with what Shepherd said in the movie, 'Serenity'.)
What does the comic book say that Shepherd did for the alliance? Nothing. He was just some officer who was angrily kicked out of the military for (what they believed to be) incompetence. This makes no sense. Why would they later on treat any ex military guy with the level of esteem that they did (in 'Safe'), and certainly why would they treat somebody who was fired for incompetence (and suspected of corruption).
NOTE: At least one poster made the excuse that Shepherd was still, officially, in good graces with the Alliance because they swept his disastrous military service under the rug. But this is contradicted by the comic because they show an incident afterward where Shepherd gets beaten up outside of a bar by an ex-military guy whose pissed at him for what he did years before.
It should be clear that the mysteries of Shepherd's past aren't just tangential curiosities of fans....it was a running point of mystery throughout the series and something that ANY viewer would expect to be answered, satisfactorily, in any expanded universe stuff. This was really the character's defining element, next to his faith.
Beyond that, there's no explanation of Shepherd's rock solid religious faith or what he was repenting for. There's, like, two pages of him going into some sort of Bible school and then there's a page of him praying, but that doesn't explain how or why he went in and what touched him so much. It was basically like a footnote. If he was trying to repent for what he did in the military, didn't he get that taken care of in that period within the abbey? And why was this never indicated clearly, if it even was the case?
Even worse than that, though, is the pacing and structure of the comic. It goes backward in time - from the movie 'Serenity' through his childhood, but there's no serious rhyme or reason for it. To me, it honestly felt as though the writers thought, "I don't really need a story....I'll just make this seem deep and profound by using a chronology gimmick. It'll confuse people and they'll assume that there's some genius hidden within it." I hate to use this word, but it was pretentious.
Between this and the 'Better Days' comic (which had some similarly colossal plot holes and was wildly over the top), it seriously seems like they're not making an effort at quality. There's a lot of criticisms about how Lucasfilm takes advantage of their hording fans by dumping tons of stupid, overpriced crap in stores, and that might well be true. But I can tell you that, even if Lucasfilm stuff sucks (which I think it often does), the 'Star Wars' comics and books at least have coherent stories and professional-level artwork. Now, we've got two "graphic novels" in a row (this and 'Better Days') priced around $10 that are absolute, exploitative crap.
This could've been a simple web-based comic done for free. They could've registered a domain name (SerenityScraps.com?) and said something like, "Hey fans! You know how we always tell you how much you've done for us and how we love you? Well, here's a freebie to thank you for that. It's not much - you can see ten-times more professional looking comics on DeviantArt - but it's free and you might have a good time debating it with your friends." That might be a bit much, of course, but they could at least just make good stuff. (And, by the way, there was a free web comic called "Serenity: The Other Half" a few years ago. Eight pages and pretty darn good.)
In short, the comic was probably written and drawn in a day, it not only doesn't satisfy but it actually undermines the movie and TV show, and it will probably make you lose some esteem for the characters and the hidden mysteries of the 'verse.
102 of 123 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2010
I have huge respect for anyone other than Joss Whedon, even if its his brother, trying to write something on Serenity and make people happy. However this story was off to me for two reasons. The first will be far more relevant to most people.
The number one reason why the story seemed a little off to me is that it was simply FAR to short. You get a brief overview of events without any real detail and then all of the sudden you are back another six years further into the past of Shepherd Book. Although what was in the book was enjoyable I was inevitably disappointed by the lack of material. It was like being able to only look at pictures from someones past when you know there is a movie about it somewhere, it was insufficient.
On the same point, the chronology seems strange. This is not to say it is right, it is just hard to put into context when all that has been written about the universe is confined to a small time period. This is the end of what normally constitutes a review for a book so you can stop here with me saying a nice read but overall somewhat disappointing knowing the amount of depth of the character that could have been explored and the cost of the book.
Now to my second complaint.Please if you are going to read this part read to the end so you understand why I am saying what I am saying, besides my desire to discuss the issue.
The way the book handles race is atrocious. No where do you meet people any people who are not white except when it fits into a modern stereotype. The story is set 500 years into the future, and manages to show women in equal or at least somewhat more equal status, yet it fails to show race progressing past the stereotypical surface point that it now occupies. It is hard to continue to talk about this without giving anything away, but all it takes
************ (MINI SPOILERS POSSIBLY) ***********
is a look at the scene of Book's childhood or his companion during his teen years to see that race in the comic book, set five hundred years in the future is so stereotypically portrayed. In truth it was just a huge disappointment to me to see these caricatures be the portrayal of Book though the second half of the comic. I could go on and talk about how it seems stupid that, in a world that is supposed to be equally founded by the Chinese, you see no one who is Chinese etc. But in truth most people do not see why I am saying this so I might as well stop.
The fact that this comic came up so short in the creation of this rich world artistically, meaning the background is shown in a complex way with people acting different than now, where minor characters are from all races and sexes for that matter, and the characters are not shown in a dynamic non stigmatized manner is disappointing because to me the inclusion of these, what may seem to some details would make the world come alive with a richer quality. One one of my favorite things about the show was the way they would switch to Chinese to cuss or the way the world especially in the pilot episode was formed visually, that is part of the sadly missing aspect of this book that makes it seem strange.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2010
Shepherd Book's past has been a subject of debate many a time among my friends and I. This comic doesn't do such a complex character any justice. I was shocked by how small the book was when it arrived. That shock quickly changed to anger as I read and realized that this story could have easily been pulled from any fan fiction site. The inconsistencies throughout the entire (short) read will eat at you quite a bit. In the end, this feels like a token offering just to say they provided fans with Book's promised back story. I'm extremely disappointed - in this comic and in Joss Whedon for even allowing this to be released. While I've always felt that the Firefly comics all feel a bit abrupt, this one is by far the worst.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I could just mark this as 5 stars because I'm a Firefly fan-boy, or I could mark it 5 stars because it's about Shepherd Book, but I can't.
The graphic-novel/comic-book thing was good, but I was left wanting more; a lot more. While I got many answers to Shepard Book and his past, it could have been expanded on a lot more. This wasn't really a story at all, only glimpses and peeks into Book's past. While everything adds up and it is structured well enough, each glimpse was too fleeting; Just as I would get interested in a memory, I was ripped out and thrust into another.
By my counting (which is always questionable) there are 10 or so sections; each dealing with a different time period. At least 7 of these could be and maybe should be turned into a longer "episode." While this may be the end, I'm hopeful it may spawn a more complete telling of his life and times, allowing the story to come full circle. Just like a bowl of soup.
Overall, it answered the questioned I had before reading it, and left me with even more that I'd like answered after reading it. It was also disappointing that it was so short.
30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2010
I'm a huge Firefly/Serenity fan. Lost count of how many times I've watched the series. Got the movie on DVD and Blu-Ray. I was really looking forward to this graphic novel.
Alas, this book is a huge disappointment. All the descriptions on the cover call it an in-depth look at the Book's past, but there's no depth to it whatsoever. I can sum up the plot line in three or four sentences without losing any depth. (I won't, out of respect for the people who will inevitably disagree with me and don't want it spoiled.) On top of all of that, there's a nagging and dissatisfying inconsistency with the series.
Had I known what I was buying, I would have saved my money, and I recommend you do the same.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I agree with everything said so far in the 1-star reviews. I wish I had never read this - my own musings on what must be true were much more satisyfing than what they fed us.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2011
I was so disappointed in this story, both in quality and 'quantity'. Fortunately for me, I didn't purchase a copy. I borrowed my brother's and read it. Had it been worthwhile I would have put out my own coin and bought one. But, for me it wasn't. I read it about eight weeks ago and couldn't tell you what the plot was.
If you want to read a truly good story regarding Shephard Derrial Book's past, I strongly suggest going to the stillflying.net website and reading episode 217, entitled 'Testament'. Far richer (as is every 'episode' these wonderful fans have written) than this. Had I the money, I'd try and figure out a way to take these 'scripts' and, at the very least, do a graphic novel series. An online, animated series would be very cool too.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2010
When Joss Whedon created Firefly and later Serenity, he created a rich and full cast of characters. One was Shepherd Book, a religious man with a past that defies expectations. Fans of the show have been curious and speculative about his history for years. Now we have those answers. Unfortunately, that's all we have.
Writer Zack Whedon's epilogue states that he wrote it in spurts over an embarrassingly long time, and it shows in the finished product. We receive glimpses of Shepherd's past, which do indeed provide answers to the major questions (including some questions raised here) but that is all we get. I hesitate to call this the character's backstory, because it doesn't even feel like a story. It feels like all of the character reveals Joss Whedon had planned to dole out to viewers in pieces over years, as portions of other stories, but cobbled together in a rather arbitrary way. There is no single, coherent plot that binds these scenes together. Arranging these moments in reverse chronological order would have worked in the course of a multiple year series; each time we learn of an event in Shepherd's past, our opinions and beliefs about his past and loyalties are questioned. However, this reverse chronological order defies the causality of the narrative. The trick worked wonders for "Memento" due to the nature of that hero. Here, it falls flat. Had this been a biography of the character instead, leading the character from his teenage years to the moments before his last scene in "Serenity," it might have had enough weight to feel like a self-contained product.
Ultimately, this provides the answers to Shepherd's past that fans have been waiting for, but the execution is lacking enough that I wouldn't recommend picking it up if it can instead be borrowed from a friend or library. The content is worth knowing, but it should be viewed as the character's chapter of the show's writers bible moreso than a stand-alone package.