When talking about the first arc of Boom! Studios’ “Firefly” comics, we have to address the elephant in the room: Despite being titled “The Unification War,” the arc comprising Issues 1-12 (2018-19) is not about the Unification War, the conflict six years before the events of the TV show that pitted the Alliance against the Independents on the Rim worlds. Thrown off by the title, some online guides place this story at the start of the timeline. But rather, it’s set amid the heart of the TV series’ events, with Unificators tracking down “war criminals” – a.k.a. Browncoat leaders.
Firefly: The Sting” (November 2019) is an ambitious hardcover graphic novel centered on Saffron, from writer Delilah S. Dawson and a team of artists. But it’s a step down in characterization from the double-length one-shot “Bad Company” from earlier in the year, and it arguably contradicts Saffron’s moral growth. The more generous interpretation is that “The Sting” shows her manipulative side, the one we know from “Our Mrs. Reynolds” (1.6) and “Trash” (1.11).
The Dark Horse Comics era of “Firefly” closes out in admirable fashion with the six-issue “Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse” (October 2016-March 2017), which finds the Alliance and revolutionaries on the brink of a second war just as rifts among the Serenity crew crop up. Chris Roberson – who wrote the short comic story “The Warrior and the Wind” (see below) – makes his full-length “Firefly” debut. He’s not as crisp as Zack Whedon (“Leaves on the Wind”), sometimes getting heavy handed with Mal and Simon yelling at each other over political differences, but it’s only a minor step back.
Although there are plenty of excellent comics set during the time of the “Firefly” TV episodes and “Serenity” movie, the post-movie story doesn’t kick into gear until the six-issue series “Serenity: Leaves on the Wind” (January-June 2014). Picking up after the revelation in “Float Oat” that Zoe is pregnant, “Leaves” finds writer Zack Whedon beautifully channeling the Serenity crew’s personalities and speaking styles as developed by his brother Joss.
For 21 years, from 1998’s short story “Maguffins” through 2018’s Joss Whedon-penned “The Reckoning,” Buffyverse stories unspooled in comic books – with Buffy always having a home at Dark Horse and Angel and Spike making a brief foray over to IDW in the middle years. For most of this time, four-color “Buffy” and “Angel” stories were fans’ lone source of further adventures.
Joe Harris’ ongoing “X-Files” title wrapped in 2017 because of low sales, but IDW took a few more cracks with the license before giving up. They close the 2013-18 revival era with a second go-around with “Deviations” in 2017, plus three two-issue series, all of which are quite good. “JFK Disclosure” is the latest example of “The X-Files” dipping its toes into the waters of real-life figures. IDW’s reign wraps with the most fun the title has had in quite some time: two monster-of-the-week yarns under the “Case Files” banner in 2018.
Writer Joe Harris gives readers a refreshing break from the dense mythology to start off the final year (for now) of “The X-Files’ ” ongoing title. Oddly enough, it’s through two mythology-tinged stories. But they are character-heavy flashbacks to the Cigarette Smoking Man and Skinner, so they are easier to digest. Then it’s on to the finale to end all finales (again, for now). Here’s a look at Issues 10-17, from 2017:
It’s become fashionable in the last decade or so to try to draw new fans into old franchises. Toward that end, you might as well start them young: Hence, we have “X-Files: Origins” (2016), a four-issue young-adult series in which each issue is a flip-comic – half is Mulder’s story, half is Scully’s. So it’s two issues’ worth of story for each teenage future-agent. The series was popular enough to warrant a sequel in the same format, 2017’s “Dog Days of Summer.”
The 2016 Annual, “Illegal Aliens,” is a classic X-File – maybe a little too classic. Writer Andrew Aydin – gamely assisted by artist Greg Scott and colorist Wes Dzioba — has the interactions between Mulder and Scully down to a tee, like when she calls to make sure he’ll meet her at the airport on time and knows he’s been arguing on conspiracy chat boards. Later, there are vintage Mulderisms, like when a man starts talking to him while he’s at a urinal: “I’d shake your hand, but …”
When Chris Carter decided to scrap the Season 10–11 comics’ timeline when he brought the “X-Files” back to TV in 2016, it meant IDW lead writer Joe Harris had to wrap up that story (now on an alternate timeline) and start up again with a new ongoing series. The big differences are that M&S are not a cohabitating couple (although they are still close) and that the Lone Gunmen are still dead. Here’s a look at Issues 1-9, from 2016: