Before I discuss Firefly: Bad Company, I feel the need to say a few words about an earlier comic – The Shepherd’s Tale.
Now, there’s quite a few die-hard Firefly fans who refused to read The Shepherd’s Tale on general principle. And it’s not hard to fault the reasoning why. For The Shepherd’s Tale reveals the life story of Shepherd Book – the preacher with a shady past that was never disclosed over the course of Firefly‘s 14 episodes or in the follow-up film Serenity.
Many Browncoats felt it fitting that Book’s mysterious past remained a mystery. The fact that Joss Whedon apparently had mapped out the details and planned to reveal them eventually over the course of the many seasons that never came didn’t matter much. Book’ story was concluded in Serenity and it didn’t matter who he was before he encountered the crew of the Serenity and became a part of the family, however unintentionally.
That brings us to Firefly: Bad Company – a one-shot from Boom! Studios which claims to tell the story of Saffron. Or Bridget. Or Yolanda. Or Mrs. Reynolds, as she was for a brief two days in “Our Mrs. Reynolds”. And if you think that nailing down the mysterious past of Shepherd Book was a sore point with Firefly fans, imagine doing the same with the woman with no name who nearly took out the Serenity crew!
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to discuss the details of Bad Company without giving away the whole story. I can say that what we see here does conform to what few details we think we know about Saffron’s life from the two Firefly episodes she appeared in. She grew up poor and dishonest, somewhere between the Core worlds and the Rim worlds. She learned something of the Companion’s art and how to seduce men and women. And she had a defining tragedy which turned her hard and made her start looking out for number one, despite seeming to wish for a better life for herself.
I can say this for free. Unlike The Shepherd’s Tale, Josh Lee Gordon’s story does nothing that definitively nails down Saffron’s background or who she is anymore than what we already know. We do not, for instance, learn what her real name is or how she chose the alias Saffron. We do, however, get a rather surprising tie to Boom! Studios’ current Firefly comic which suggests that Saffron may show up again to plague her ex-husband and his crew.
The artwork is largely competent, though you can tell that three inkers worked on it. The outlines are noticeably thicker and the shadows deeper on some pages. Penciler Francesco Mortarino is also far better at drawing people than backgrounds and there’s a noticeable lack of detail in the setting that is present in the characters. There’s also a fair bit of forced posing and some sequences where the flow of action is unclear.
Despite this, Firefly: Bad Company proves to be a solid story that will offer Browncoats everywhere a satisfying reading experience. Those worried about having the mystery behind Saffron solved can rest assured that the devil woman will remain as much an enigma as she ever was. Here’s hoping she shows up again in the new monthly Firefly series to plague her ex-husband once again.