Comic Publishers

June 5, 2010

Dark Horse Reviews: Serenity: Float Out

Jo Chen Cover

Title: Serenity: Float Out
Writer: Patton Oswalt
Artist: Patric Reynolds
Dave Stewart
Frank Stockton, Jo Chen
Pages: 40
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: June 2010
Price: $3.50

**Minor Spoilers Ahead**

“I am a leaf on the wind.  Watch how I… oaugh!”  These were Hoban “Wash” Washburne’s final words after he managed to crash-land Serenity at Mr. Universe’s base — just before he was unexpectedly impaled by a Reaver’s harpoon!

For a sci-fi creation that only encompassed fourteen TV episodes (of which eleven were aired) and a follow-up movie, plus a total of six comics over two mini-series,  Joss Whedon’s Firefly/Serenity epic has made a lasting impression on fans, though the limited amount of media published thus far means there is plenty of room for development of the characters’ backgrounds and the universe they inhabit.  The latest addition to the saga, Serenity: Float Out, provides a fitting coda for Serenity’s pilot, Wash, who died in the eponymous movie.

Frank Stockton Cover

The book features a series of three vignettes tied together with a framing sequence.  The main story is set in a shipyard a few months after the events in the film, where three of Wash’s friends prepare to christen their new ship, the Jetwash (an obvious play on Wash’s name).  Each man, in turn, tells of their first meeting with Wash and illustrates the outstanding aspects of his character as they dedicate their new endeavor to him.

Trey talks about an occasion when a smuggling convoy he and Wash were part of was attacked by Reavers.  Their escort ship peeled off and ran, leaving the two cargo haulers defenseless.  Wash was at the controls of one of the vessels, and he leapt into action, performing a maneuver that disabled the Reaver ship and plunged it into the planet’s gravity well.

Leland’s first meeting with Wash occurred when they both worked for a freight company called PonyMacro.  During a delivery run, they were ambushed by bandits on a moon featuring drastically different environments.  Making use of the climate itself, Wash disabled their pursuit ship and completed the delivery.

Tagg never actually flew with Wash; he was an Alliance soldier on patrol when they received a tip about smugglers in the area.  The Alliance had them dead-to-rights, but Wash dumped the cargo, enabling the smugglers to flee.  Tagg later sees Wash in a bar in a confrontation over the lost merchandise.  Though catching Wash would boost his career, Tagg held back in admiration of Wash’s loyalty to his friends.

The three stories serve to illustrate Wash’s resourcefulness in using whatever he had at hand to win the day, whether it be the local environment, his own ship, or even a cargo of water purifiers.  Although he was usually the advocate for avoiding confrontation, in the pilot’s seat, Wash never backed down from a situation.  His skill as a pilot and his knowledge of spaceships in general were unmatched.  Probably, Wash’s most important character trait was his loyalty (and love for a bad joke!).

The closing pages feature a cameo from another member of Serenity’s crew, who provides a fitting tribute for the christening and reveals a surprising part of Wash’s legacy that will thrill Serenity fans.

Patton Oswalt constructs a simple, well-used story structure, leaving the focus on Wash and providing a fitting elegy for the character.  The art by Patric Reynolds helps to set a somber mood for the framing sequence, but appropriately shifts to provide a sense of motion and speed for the action scenes.  Dave Stewart uses a muted color palette for the present-day setting, but shifts to brighter, more vibrant colors for the flashbacks.  The contrasts in art and color help to set the flashbacks apart and to accentuate the sense of sadness in the framing scenes, not only for the three friends remembering their comrade, but for the fans mourning a beloved character.

As a fan of the series, I appreciated the extra glimpse into Wash’s past, and the illustration of why he was so well-regarded among his peers.  Previously, there were only brief mentions of how he was perceived by other pilots and captains (as in the Firefly episode “Out of Gas”).  One thing that seemed to be missing was Wash’s trademark humor.  Though Oswalt adds in some good one-liners and an appearance by his toy dinosaurs, Wash’s dry wit is difficult to translate into comic book dialogue (though the bad puns in both the story’s title and the name of the new ship were fitting).  It also seemed at times that Wash’s skills were overly exaggerated, though putting it into perspective, he IS being eulogized, so obviously his friends would embellish his better qualities.

All in all, this story doesn’t add much to Firefly‘s main continuity, but it does fill in some of Wash’s background with a well-told story, and for Firefly fans, the final scene alone is worth the price of the book!  Shiny!

Tom McNeely



  1. Patric is a good buddy of mine, both of us having gone through the Sequential program at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I am going to do an interview with Patric at some point in the future. You are guaranteed to be entertained, because Paric is one funny f*ck, let me tell you! He gave up teaching high school (happily), sold his house and gambled it all on making it in comics. He is a hard worker and deserves all the praise I hope he gets!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Hoban Washburne and Comic Attack, Comic Attack. Comic Attack said: @DarkHorseComics Reviews: Serenity: Float Out! #comics #serenity #firefly […]

  3. I watched all the episodes of the show and the movie, and while I’m not a HUGE fan, Wash was always my favorite character. Good stuff Tom!

  4. Princess Powerful

    That’s pretty nice :). Lol Jet Wash, I gotta remember that XD

  5. Decapitated Dan

    Wash was my favorite character too. DAMN YOU MOVIE VERSION!!

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