Review by: CaseyJustice

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Avg Rating: 4.1
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Writer: Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon
Artist: Chris Samnee
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: Steve Morris

Size: 56 pages
Price: 14.99

I have an unhealthy affection for Firefly. I’ll come out and admit that. I love the show, and most especially the film, Serenity, more than a man really oughtta love a fictional universe. And, as any fan of the ‘verse should know, one of the central mysteries of this all to brief masterpiece was the history of devoutly religious ass-kicker Shepherd Book.

Now, based on scenes in the aforementioned movie, a lotta folks (myself included) thought that we had a pretty decent handle on the secret origin of our favorite bible thumper. So assured was I, in fact, that I was almost not excited for this book, seeing as how it could surely be nothing other than a re-hashing of all the brilliant deductions I’d already made in my incredibly big brain!

After reading the book, however, I’ll say this:

Damn, it feels good to be a dumbass.

Shepherd’s Tale not only gives us a glimpse into the past of this fascinating character, but it somehow manages to do so while subverting the expectations of the reader every step of the way. The device used in this one-shot, as we travel backward through Book’s life, works brilliantly to layer the character in surprising and resonant ways. This is a book that requires multiple readings, and has even encouraged me to re-watch the television series, searching for new depth in scenes that previously seemed merely cryptic.

Zack Whedon’s grasp of Book’s character is nearly flawless. As we travel through his past, each incarnation feels unmistakably correct, while simultaneously showing us a man at very different stages in his maturation. All of this expertly rendered by Chris Samnee, who turns in a moody, subtle performance dripping with nuance on every page. His sense of timing and storytelling are on display here just as prominently as they are in Thor: The Mighty Avenger.

I’ll freely admit to a bias, a pre-existing affinity for this character and this universe, that has most certainly colored my review. At the same time, however, I feel representative of the hardcore fan reading an aspect of the lore that almost didn’t need telling at all. And that’s a challenge to which these creators have risen admirably.

Story: 5 - Excellent
Art: 5 - Excellent

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