Firefly fans are about to get some very interesting answers to long-standing questions. The short-lived space western series only lasted one season on Fox back in 2002. Although interest in the show only grew after its cancellation, leading to the 2005 movie sequel Serenity, there’s still an element of tragedy to how much storytelling potential was left unused by taking the show off the air so quickly.
Over the course of 14 episodes, creator Joss Whedon and the rest of the creative team dreamed up a universe where humankind had taken to the stars but still didn’t distribute its resources evenly. This led to tensions between the wealthy central planets and hardscrabble outlying systems where people struggled as hard as they did back in the Old West. Those tensions came to a head in the Unification War, the devastating conflict briefly glimpsed in the opening moments of Firefly‘s pilot but rarely discussed otherwise other than as a source of lingering trauma for the main characters.
But now, a new Firefly comic will finally explore the Unification War and what characters like Mal and Zoe experienced during those battles.
Firefly‘s rich potential of unexplored mythology has produced several spin-off comics already. Miniseries like The Shepherd’s Tale explored the hidden backstory of characters like Shepherd Book, while No Power in the ‘Verse followed the Serenity crew through new adventures after the film’s conclusion. Now that publishing rights have shifted to Boom! Studios, a new ongoing Firefly comic is launching this November from writer Greg Pak and artist Dan McDaid, and will explore the characters’ war-haunted past as it comes back to bite them in the present. Pak wrote the epic Planet Hulk comic that provided much of the basis for last year’s Thor: Ragnarok, so he’s well-acquainted with complex sci-fi stories.
“It’s high time we got to see the full story of Mal and Zoe’s meeting and mission in the War of Unification — the good and bad that the pressure of war brings out in them, and the unforeseeable consequences,” Whedon, who serves as a story consultant on the new series, said in a statement.
Mal Reynolds (played by Nathan Fillion in the original series) always saw the space-faring life as an escape from his past battles, but the new series will find him and his loyal second-in-command Zoe (originally played by Gina Torres) hunted by Unificators, mercenaries deputized to hunt down war criminals.
“Firefly spoke to so many people at the time because of the themes it dealt with and the way it allowed characters to deal with them, and those themes are even more relevant today: found family, identity, and the emotional toll of resistance, to name a few,” Boom! editor Jeanine Schaefer tells EW. “Our job is to craft stories that will be exciting and rewarding for Firefly fans that have been with these characters from the beginning, but also to introduce it to a new audience. We want to cement Firefly as a pop-culture touchstone, enduring yet modern, in the tradition of other perennial sci-fi epics that are still teaching us about ourselves.”
EW caught up with Pak to ask him about his plans for the series and the things he’s most looking forward to about exploring the Firefly world. Check that out below, along with exclusive promotional art for Firefly #1 and for Firefly: Legacy Edition, Book One, which will collect previously published Firefly comics.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is the first Firefly comic at Boom!, following a bunch at Dark Horse over the last decade or so. How is yours going to be different from and/or similar to the ones that came before?
GREG PAK: It’s a huge tribute to the creators of the original show that their rich, intriguing world and hilarious, compelling characters could inspire so many additional stories. We’ve gotten the incredible go-ahead to do something particularly special in this new series — we’re digging deep into the Unification War, the galaxy-shattering event that shaped so many of our central characters. Many of the show’s central themes revolve around the way everyday people handle the threat of tyranny, the trauma of war, and the danger of falling into villainy when resisting a world run by villains. We’re getting the chance to reveal essential truths about our heroes’ pasts and put them through experiences in the here and now that they’ve never fully dealt with before. As a fan of the show who adores these characters, I can’t wait.
One of the things that has always bummed me out most about Firefly’s early cancellation is how much detail Joss and the other writers were able to build into this world just in the course of those dozen episodes. How will you continue to build on the world they created? What are you looking forward to exploring with the Unification War?
One of the things I love about the show is how much is implied about the world but not fully explained or explored. In the very best kind of way, those fourteen episodes always felt like the first season of what shoulda/woulda/coulda been a 10-season show, meaning they brilliantly took the time and care to layer in plenty of mysteries and curiosities for later exploration. And I think that’s why the show’s been so great for follow-up comics: There’s so much room to tell new stories that deepen the world and the characters in genuinely significant ways.
Our story will reveal key experiences for Mal and Zoe during the Unification War that you’ve never seen before. And we’ll introduce entirely new corners of the star system with characters, organizations, and subcultures that are absolutely true to all the world-building you know but absolutely brand-new at the same time.
Who are your favorite characters? Who are you most looking forward to writing?
Oh, I love them all. On an emotional level, we’re probably going to dig the deepest with Zoe and Mal in this story. But it’s funny — when I think about writing this book, I never have just one or two characters in my head. Every time a scenario starts to form, I get excited about the interactions and dynamics of all of the principal characters. That’s the glory of the work of Joss Whedon, his creative team, and the amazing actors. They created a tremendous cast of characters with infinitely compelling and entertaining voices and relationships. The way these different characters react to situations and each other is always the most essential thing in every Firefly story. So they’re all my fave, and I can’t wait to see them drive each other crazy in the story we’re putting together.
This isn’t quite Firefly-related, but I’m dying to know: What was it like seeing your amazing Planet Hulk saga transform into the equally amazing but very different Thor: Ragnarok?
I loved it! Of course Ragnarok was absolutely its own thing with its own vibe, but I loved that vibe. I’m a total sucker for big humor and big heart side by side in genre stories. Of course, someday I’d love to see (and write!) an epic Planet Hulk story for the big or small screen that’s a more straight adaptation of the original. But I loved loved loved Ragnarok, especially the way Korg’s essential nature as the rock man with a heart of gold shone through in every scene.