Firefly: River Run #1 Review

AbraxasOctober 7, 2021

Firefly: River Run #1 is a dazzlingly impressive, short and sweet expansion of its source material that shouldn’t be missed.

Firefly: River Run #1 is a well-executed and charismatic look into the untold, but vastly consequential story of how Dr. Simon Tam managed to break his mega-genius sister, River, out of the Alliance facility holding her captive. The issue doesn’t overstep its bounds onto the source material, nor does it shy away from telling a compelling story. The book asserts its own place within the Firefly mythos comfortably and respectfully, all while offering an engaging story with excellent visuals.

Created by writer David M. Booher, artist Andrés Genolet and colorist Mattia Iacono, Firefly: River Run #1 strikes just the right tone for an issue centered around the Tam siblings. While the original show had plenty of other excellent characters to work with, the story of River Run centers around, arguably, the two most serious crew members aboard Serenity — or, at the very least, the two characters whose story provides much of the overarching narrative tension within the show. As such, one might imagine that River Run would lack that trademark Firefly wit and charisma. Delightfully, this is not the case.

Related: Firefly: Brand New ‘Verse Sets the Stage for the Serenity’s Future 

Booher finds plenty of places to inject humor into the admittedly dark narrative behind River Run. The result is an issue that harkens back to its source material in tone, while spinning its own narrative around Simon and River. Striking a recognizable tone without access to many of the central characters from the series is no easy feat, nor is crafting an engaging story in which the ending is already known, but Booher manages both here. River Run not only engages its audience but captures the inseparable bond between Simon and River with impressive accuracy.

The additional characters in the narrative fit well into the world of Firefly, and Simon himself commands center stage with ease. This Simon has a determination and a confidence that may seem unlike the Simon from the show, but this juxtaposition is perfectly done. This is a Simon with a mission, a Simon who’s purpose is saving his sister, as opposed to protecting her. Simon’s characterization in this issue adds a layer to Simon that we rarely see in the show, and in doing so truly adds something to the Firefly mythos at large.

Visually, Firefly: River Run #1 has an unassuming simplicity that fits both the narrative and the tone perfectly. The emotion, excitement and personality invoked through the beautiful panels by Genolet are top class. The pages have a restrained realism that matches every beat of the story perfectly. Whatever one might think of the narrative behind River Run, it is nearly undeniable that the script and the art flow in tandem wonderfully. The sleekness of the Alliance’s bases, the sanitized beauty of Simon’s parents’ estate on Osiris, and — in particular — one fantastic flashback to Simon and River’s youth are all reflected impressively by Genolet, who nails the aesthetics but puts emotion above all else, culminating in dazzling panels on each and every page.

Related: Firefly: Wash’s Untold Stories Revealed in New Graphic Novel

The narrative behind River Run was largely predestined by its source material. This happens often these days, with more and more franchises using comics to expand their universes and fill in gaps in their narratives. The best of these comics seek to add something new to the universes or characters they operate within, either unearthing something significant that the source material wasn’t able to spare time on or meaningfully expanding where the source left off. Firefly: Riven Run #1 represents the very best of these comics. The story is engaging, exciting and emotional, and the issue gives a truly deeper look into a turning point in Simon and River Tam’s lives.

Firefly: River Run #1 is recommended for all comic fans. The book is illustrated beautifully and has more than its fair share of emotion, sarcasm and meaningful character work. Even those unfamiliar with the show Firefly can enjoy, as the issue lays out most of the main concepts behind the show. (Although to be sure, the issue is intended those who have watched Firefly.) Regardless, River Run #1 is not an issue to sleep on.

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