Serenity: Those Left Behind, Dark Horse
Story by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews; art by Will Conrad
Dark Horse; GCD; Wikia; Wikipedia
A 3 issue miniseries (from 2005), bridging the gap between the TV series Firefly and the movie Serenity. It's pretty much like the series: the crew of Serenity take jobs they don't necessarily want, and end up in a mess of trouble, from which they always barely manage to extricate themselves, and not without doin' a lot of damage in the process. It's also got some great art (everyone looks pretty much just like they do on the show), and some great, snappy dialog. Cool, exciting action, as well as great small moments of personal character interaction. And as usual, there's plenty of swearing in Chinese; though here, it is written in Chinese characters, so most fans, along with not knowing what any of it means, will have the added frustration of not even knowing what it sounds like (making it more problematic to look up). But at least it looks really cool.
Anyway, they get set up by some old enemies from the series. Of course, if the primary minor enemy (former Alliance agent Dobson, who wants revenge against Mal for shooting out his eye and leaving him for dead) succeeded, there wouldn't be a movie, would there? So I don't feel I'm giving anything away by saying he fails. But the people he teamed up with, agents of the Blue Sun corporation, have always been far more sinister and creepy, not to mention rather ubiquitous and powerful. They want River and Simon Tam, and they of course represent the series' ultimate mythology (much like The X-Files' Syndicate), which makes them the people to truly fear. When Dobson fails, they hand off the assignment to someone else, who will be the primary enemy in the movie. We don't actually see his face at the end of issue 3, but we see enough to get the impression it's him, if we've already seen any trailers for the movie (which, being huge fans, we of course have). The comics also tell us that two of the main characters from the show (Inara and Book) will each be leaving Serenity... this is probably the most important reason to bother reading the comics, so you'll understand why they're not on Serenity at the start of the movie. And yeah, it's important to the movie that they're elsewhere.
I loved the TV series. I love the movie. And this little miniseries, in its own way, rocks... but it seems to me sort of dependent on people already knowing and loving the series, and going to see the movie. There's no real resolution to the comic, it's pretty much all about setting up the movie. Aside from that, while I love everything that happens... it really doesn't seem like that much... happens. So... I really do look forward to the story continuing at some point....
Oh yeah, I should also mention that each issue had three different covers, so each of the nine main characters got a cover. I, of course, only got one copy of each issue, and I count myself lucky that the three characters I most wanted to get (Inara, Kaylee, and River) were on different issues, cuz I hate getting multiple copies of the same thing, especially when I can barely afford to get one copy.