Firefly #21 took a lot of risks, and it shows. The tone has altered for the series, though thankfully several characters have stayed true to their roots. The vibrant colors and carefully designed contrast make for bold statements.

How It All Unravels In FIREFLY #21

FIREFLY #21, available Wednesday from BOOM! Studios, continues the escalating Blue Sun Rising event, where one corporation has risen up after the Alliance fell. Unfortunately, they are proving to be just as difficult to contend with.

spoilers ahead

It’s safe to say that things have changed a lot since the Firefly crew was on screen. This most recent comic run has taken a particular focus on Malcolm Reynolds, putting him in a position that many fans would never have predicted.

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Now, it seems like all of those changes and risks are coming back tenfold, and looking to make the crew pay. In Firefly #21, there are more dangers than ever, while also providing an event that no Firefly fan would have ever predicted.

We could spend all day arguing about whether or not change and risk is good. But it won’t change the fact that this series of Firefly has taken a lot of risks, many of which have deviated from the original series that so many fell in love with. Again, for better or for worse.

A flashback to ‘Ariel’ for this cover of Firefly #21.

The Writing

Written by Greg Pak, Firefly #21 is not an issue afraid of taking risks. There are certainly plenty of those. Unfortunately, it also kind of feels like the series has finally started jumping the shark. The latest threat introduced feels…out of place in this world.

That isn’t to say that the core concept isn’t intriguing – it actually truly is. It brings up a lot of interesting debates, mostly revolving around ethics, the differences between right and wrong, and the cost of following all rules to the fullest extent.

All of which fit in nicely with the theme of Firefly. It’s simply the execution that feels more like another science fiction series, and less like the series so many fans love. Robots are not uncommon in the sci-fi world, and yet Firefly always felt like more of a Western, and thus felt like it would escape that concept.

Every series has its ups and downs, so while it is tempting to focus entirely on the strange events in Blue Sun Rising, let us not forget the positive moments. Walsh still being alive is a pretty big deal, as is the search that Zoe has been on. It feels pretty spot on for how her character would have reacted, after the events of Serenity.

This is an issue that has left me feeling fairly conflicted, truth be told. On the one hand, it seems like the perfect time to take a break from the series. On the other hand, part of me would really like to know what the series looks like, after Blue Sun Rising has come to a conclusion.

Malcolm Reynolds in all his glory on this variant cover of Firefly #21.

The Art

Firefly #21 is an issue full to the brim of colorful and brilliant artwork. The artists in charge also took some risks, deviating slightly from the standard style developed in the television show. On the whole, those risks are quickly proving to be worth it.

Lalit Kumar Sharma and Daniel Bayliss were the lead artists, bringing to life all of those characters that we love. Their style is unique, yet it worked nicely here, for the most part. Though all of the characters do seem to be oddly tired, intentionally or not (most likely, intentionally). Of course, there is that one oddity discussed up above, with the robot and all. The design itself isn’t bad, and in fact, they did a good job making the origin of the bot clear from just a glance.

Marcelo Costa provided those vibrant colors, which honestly make the issue stand out so much. Every backdrop seems to be bursting with colors, rendering a stark contract to the relatively muted characters. It feels hopeful somehow, while also staying true to the roots of the franchise.

Naturally, Jim Campbell’s lettering is perfectly done, as always. It’s easy to follow the narrative, and even large conversations (with an even larger crew), thanks to the careful placement of speech bubbles and the like.

Feel free to guess at what this alternate cover of Firefly #21 implies.


Firefly #21 took a lot of risks, and it should be acknowledged for doing so. Unfortunately, not all risks pay off, and while it may be too soon to speak about this particular risk, it’s starting to feel that way.

Mainly because it has taken a step away from the core feeling and tone of the universe in which Firefly is set in. Only time will tell if the series will get back to it’s roots at a later date.

Cat Wyatt
Cat Wyatt
Cat Wyatt is an avid comic book fan. She loves comics - possibly too much, and will happily talk your ear off about everything she's reading. Though picking a favorite is a bit harder. She reads a little bit of everything and is always open to trying a new series.
Firefly #21 took a lot of risks, and it shows. The tone has altered for the series, though thankfully several characters have stayed true to their roots. The vibrant colors and carefully designed contrast make for bold statements.How It All Unravels In FIREFLY #21