Serenity 2: Better Days by Whedon, Matthews, and Conrad: B

serenity2From the back cover:
When the Serenity crew uncovers a heaping pile of cash—marking their first successful heist—they divulge their most outlandish fantasies, and look forward to a little R&R in a tropical paradise. Unfortunately for these space cowboys, someone is hot on their heels in search of a prize more precious than money.

Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, joins Brett Matthews and Will Conrad—the team that brought you the smash hit Serenity: Those Left Behind—with a new chapter in the lives of Malcolm Reynolds and his roving band of space brigands in Better Days.

While Serenity: Better Days is the second comic miniseries based on the TV show Firefly to be released, I am not sure whether its events take place chronologically after the end of the show or not. The one thing that would help establish its place in the timeline—Inara’s decision to depart the ship—is not mentioned at all, nor is any reference made to Shepherd Book’s wish to leave (first stated by him in Serenity: Those Left Behind). While the story works just fine without knowing when it happens, this still bugs me a little bit.

The plot of Better Days is extremely simple. For once, things go well and the crew of Serenity is suddenly rich. Several members share the way they plan to spend their money in scenes that nicely capture the warm, family-like times the crew occasionally shares. Meanwhile, the Alliance is looking for Mal (when are they not?), though this guy is special in that he’s one of Inara’s clients, and a builder whose drone Mal stole is out for revenge. I must admit that this peril did not interest me very much, though I’m used to looking past occasionally lame plots in Whedon shows in favor of character interaction. The best character goodness happens here between Inara and Mal, especially in their final scene together, though there’s also some nice continuity between Wash and Zoe as well as an intriguing tidbit regarding Inara and Simon.

Will Conrad is back as the artist for this miniseries, and seems to have a little better feel for the characters now. The likenesses are more consistent and Inara is vastly improved, finally meriting some impressively realistic close-ups of her own. Although a new cover was created for this trade paperback, the original covers of the three comic issues—forming a triptych that depicts the crew lounging atop sacks of money—are reproduced within.

I have now read all of the Firefly-inspired comics currently in existence and enjoyed them a good bit. Any time Dark Horse would like to make more, I’ll be happy to give them my money.

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