Nathan Fillion is on the front cover of two titles for Free Comic Book Day this year. Spectrum #0 published by Automatic Publishing and Serenity published by Dark Horse Comics.
Spectrum is the comic of the show within the show, Con Man, and by PJ Haarsma, Alan Tuydyk and Sarah Stone. A full size comic story, it is the prequel to June's Spectrum #1.
Now, let's be clear, I adore Con Man. A webshow about a struggling actor written by and played by Alan Tuydyk who was once in a successful sci-fi TV show a bit like Firefly, dealing with his current life and the much more successful career of his friend and co-star, played by Nathan Fillion.
It falls into the Extras trap a little by having people play monstrous versions of themselves in an attempt to absolve themself of real life sins, being seen as a "good sport".
And while based on Tudyk's experiences after making Firefly, it smacks more of the experiences and attitude of William Shatner.
But this comic is not that. Indeed, I would say it is completely devoid of humour, with only the tiniest hints of Whedonesque snark. It is a dark and powerful science fiction saga, with danger, aliens, battle and trading agreements. It's also a lot more convincing than the clips of the Spectrum TV show we have seen on Con Man and might justify the attention the actor gets on that show.
This isn't a comic for people who like Con Man. It's for people who like Firefly. And Saga – especially the use of important children – including Zoe.
The Serenity comic enters similar domains. Here Zoe has given birth to a child in previous stories – from her late husband Wash. Yes, played by Alan Tuydyk. And in the story Serenity: The Warrior And The Wind by Chris Roberson and Stephen Byrne, we get their stories told in fairytale to the child, as the team go out and commit far more acts of danger.
So it is flashback by allegory, a change for Firefly fans to revisit the past while also facing forward to the future. It looks just beautiful – and avoids any holodeck nonsense.
The comic has other stories as well of course, a grossly detailed and horrific Hellboy: The Mirror by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben…
…of course, everything must go wrong…
Spectrum and Serenity are out this weekend for Free Comic Book Day.