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The Shepherd's Tale: Or, hooray, backstory!

Updated on September 12, 2012


The backstory of Shepherd Derrial is one of the biggest unexplained mysteries in Joss Whedon's "Firefly" series. A priest and a man of peace, he nevertheless seems uncomfortably familiar with the seedier side of the galaxy. The fact that he gave basically no hints as to what his life was like before he joined the abbey he was at before joining the crew of "Serenity," combined with his death in the movie "Serenity," makes him a maddening enigma of a character.

But it looks as if Joss Whedon has shown pity to us poor Browncoats, and commissioned his brother Zack to write and Chris Samnee t draw a comic that explains Book's background. And the result is a pretty good little morsel.

I had not be overly impressed with the two previous "Serenity" comics. They were well enough written and mildly entertaining, but much too short and not rich enough to be as satisfying as the TV show or the movie. And this comic has the same issue of being pretty short. However, it has more depth than I was expecting, fully using its conceit of telling the story backwards from Book's death to when he first escapes a home dominated by an abusive father to complicate Book's story in interesting ways. The reader makes assumptions about what an event means to Book's life, only for the story to pull back once again and reveal that the reader was totally wrong.

All of this helps emphasize how fascinating and complex a character Book was. This comic really sheds light on how very little we knew about such a strange and awesome character. I reccomend this story for any and all Browncoats out there (the few who haven't read it already!)


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