First off, let's see what it is.
Dark Horse's biggest hit of 2006 is now available in a special-edition hardcover!
Joss Whedon, the pop-culture mastermind behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, bridged the gap between his cult-hit Firefly TV series and his Serenity motion picture with this three-issue miniseries.
Penned by Whedon and Brett Matthews, a Firefly show writer, the ragtag crew takes on a scavenger mission with the promise of a big payoff. Only too late do they realize the gig is orchestrated by an old enemy eager to remake their acquaintance.
* Sporting a new cover by Adam Hughes, this oversized collection shows off the work of penciller Will Conrad and colorist Laura Martin, and the array of pinups by phenomenal guest artists. In addition, over a dozen backup pages delve into the work and art behind the scenes-original material assembled especially for this hardcover edition.
And it is all that. Beautiful new cover — where's the poster for this, Dark Horse? — and the production and colors are great. If you peek under the slipcover you'll even see a nice Serenity logo on the book cover. All the stories and covers* from the original 3-issue, 9-cover series are here, as promised, and Nathan's intro from the paperback collection came along for the ride. All well and good.
My problem with the book? The extras.
They're not new. None of them. You get Joss' pre-production memo "A Brief History of the Universe, Circa 2516 A.D.," which is funny and very revealing abgout the underpinnings and history of the 'verse, and some stunning production artwork which are truly wonderful to look upon. At least, that's what I remember thinking when I first saw them all in the Serenity Visual Companion from Titan Books.
Hey, Dark Horse? Serenity fans tend towards the obsessive — trust me on this one, note the name of my site and imagine the mail I get– and an awful lot of us bought the Serenity Companion. You know what would have been a great thing to put in your collection?
Joss and Brett's script, or even a portion of one. Their notes back and forth. Pencils of the finished pages. Character studies by the artists. Ship and cast pinups from other comic artists. New interviews from just about anybody involved with the comics about their involvement. Even an essay on how this became your hottest seller would have been good, and even the slightest, roughest peek at the next Serenity mini-series would have brought Browncoats by the scores to the bookshelves. Stuff that only you have, that we haven't already seen.
* Update: Didn't notice this until Simon from Whedonesque mentioned it, but the hardcover doesn't have all the covers after all. Simon's and River's are combined, and Book's is missing altogether. C'mon, Dark Horse, that's just sloppy.
The book is a great collection that will make a great gift for Browncoats and new fans alike. I highly recommend it, especially if you still haven't read the mini-series or don't own the Serenity Companion. But it could have been so much more. The best thing about it, to me, was the great big "1" on the spine. I can't wait for "2."
(By the way – whomever has the rights to Joshua Middleton's artwork of Inara's costumes and the Companion House? Please release them as prints. Please.)