Firefly Rewatch

Tell Us Some Tales: Serenity: Float Out

Sorry for the week’s delay on this. As those who follow my social networks (listed below, hint hint wink wink) know, I had my house broken into last week. Fortunately, nothing was stolen, but it was still a hassle and succeeded in delaying me. Which, I guess isn’t so bad, as The Shepherd’s Tale has been delayed on its way to my household, too. Hopefully, it will be in our hands soon.

Anyway, we aren’t here to talk about that. No sir. We are here to talk about Hoban Washburne in his own comic: Serenity: Float Out. (Also, there is an alternate cover available)

Medium to Longish Short Summary Thinger:

Three men us browncoats have never seen before are looking out over a newish Firefly-class ship they are about to christen the Jetwash. They mull over how they should say something, and they mention how Wash would make a bad joke. This in turn leads to some bickering between the three, and we learn something of their pasts. One is an ex-Alliance officer, one is a hardened smuggler, and one was a courier. They settle down, and the smuggler finally decides to say something first. They are going to share stories about how they knew Wash.

The smuggler, Trey, regales the party with a tale of how Wash took a flying hunk of crap and out-maneuvered a Reaver ambush on a failed smuggling mission. (Of course, just before that, Wash had tried to cheer up a chronically broody Trey with his plastic dinosaurs.) The end result of the maneuver is that the Reavers were sucked down to the planet, and Wash and the others got off free to sell their ill-gotten goods elsewhere.

The old courier, Leland, takes his turn next, and tells a similarly dashing tale of Wash, who is snarking the entire time, doing a supply drop and being chased by blood-mercs that wanted to take the job for themselves. Where in the previous story he had directly confronted the Reavers, here he actually makes a strong tactic of running away and leading the mercs’ more cumbersome ship through all sorts of harsh environments. The end result is a sudden freeze and then thaw of the mercs’ intakes, which makes them crash their ship. Leland ends his story by commenting that Wash had never lost a shipment.

Tagg, the ex-Alliance officer, says that isn’t entirely true. His one run-in with Wash was when he was on a patrol with the Alliance and they saw a couple of illegal ships. They started to give chase, but the ships suddenly jettisoned their cargo, a haul of water converters that would be worth a fortune on the planet below. The Alliance got so busy collecting the goods that the smugglers got away. Leland and Trey question how Tagg knew it was Wash, and Tagg finishes his story about how a few days later he saw two front-men harassing a pilot, Wash, about losing his goods. Tagg knew he could have made an arrest right there, but he let Wash go because of the heroic act he did in both dropping the goods and taking the heat from the bosses so that his fellow smugglers could escape.

LELAND: He looked out for his friends.
TAGG: That’s a good toast.
TREY: What?
TAGG: To our friends’ advantage.

They reach for the bottle of champagne they were going to use to christen the ship, and it is gone. A voice says, “Wash hated champagne,” and Zoe appears, handing them a bottle of cheap Asian liquor. She says that it was perfect for a young couple of limited means on a first date, and that Wash loved it as much as his friends and flying. The art then zooms out to show Zoe with a very pregnant belly: “Just like she will.”

What I Thought:

Well, this is an interesting comic. For one, it is the technically set the furthest along in the Firefly timeline—after the movie—as Wash is dead and Zoe is pregnant. I’d say from the size of her tummy, somewhere around 7 to 8 months after Serenity. That being said, this truly is a story that’s just giving us some backstory about Wash, whom we never really got much on anyway. We knew he wasn’t in the war, but it was never really explained where he was for that time period, or what else he had done in his life. I’ll be honest, I was surprised that he was an unabashed smuggler from the get-go, and wasn’t just drawn into his life of crime by Mal. On the same hand, it does make sense. Also, I’m glad to see that Zoe at least will have the child she wanted with Wash. Yay, Joss allowed for some modicum of happiness from his trademark “kill the fan favorite” maneuver.

That all aside, I was a little annoyed by this comic. For one, it starts with these strange characters I don’t even know talking about Wash in the past tense. Their stories were only mildly illuminating on who Wash was, as we already knew he was a smartass, a dinosaur fanatic, and a kick-ass pilot. Aside from the fact that he had a long history of smuggling, there really wasn’t that much added to the “who is Hoban Washburne” idea.

Granted, this was a one-shot comic, not a full graphic novel, which still gives me hope for Book’s comic. If The Shepherd’s Tale, was going to be the same short length of Float Out, I’d be severely worried.

So yeah, Joss, as well as Patton Oswalt and Patric Reynolds, I hate to say it, but Float Out was pretty “meh.” Some nice backstory and lots of pretty action (I haven’t said it until now, but the comic-rendered fancy flying was pretty well done), weren’t really enough to carry the honest to goodness absence of plot and story. I almost would have preferred this to have been a three-part graphic novel, with each story having been a full comic with more expansion and history of Wash. Where did he learn to fly, what was that like, was there ever a time when he wasn’t so zany, perhaps even how did the “courting of Zoe” actually go? Stuff like that. Eh bien.

Next up, soon as a copy ever gets to my door, The Shepherd’s Tale. Until then, keep flying.

Richard Fife is a writer, blogger, and would drop his “cargo” at the first sign of trouble. You can read more of his ramblings and some of his short fiction on his website, and you can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook.


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