In the ‘Serenity’ Comics, Shepherd Book Is An Open Book

All those questions you had about Shepherd Book — from how did his ID get him clearance for emergency Alliance hospital care, to how does a man of God know so much about guns? — are about to answered, simply because you kept asking them.

Ron Glass, who played Shepherd Book in “Firefly” and “Serenity,” was tired of facing fans without knowing what to say, so he asked for a favor. “He came up to me on the picket line [during the writers’ strike], and he said, ‘You got to help a brother out,’” Joss Whedon said, “’I’m going to do another convention, and they’re going to ask me one question…for three days.’ And I realized, ‘You know, it’s time.’”

Even if there ever were a “Serenity” sequel “by some miracle,” Whedon said, there would never be room to explain the character’s back history — so Book is getting his own book, “The Shepherd’s Tale.” “I’ve already outlined the whole thing,” Whedon said. “We’re going to explain the entire history of Book, and what all that was about, which will be fun, because those are those most asked questions about the whole series.”

The three-issue, single volume series will be scripted by Jim Krueger, who wrote the current webcomic “The Other Half”. While it won’t encompass Book’s whole life — “it’s not going to be ‘War and Peace,” Whedon said — it will comprise vignettes that will explain who he was and how he came to be there in the first place. “It’s all the good stuff,” Whedon promised. “And if you think I’m going to tell you, you’re incorrect. Because you have to read it.”

There are a few facts that Glass himself let slip out — that Derrial is not Book’s real first name, but that of a man he killed, for instance — that might be tantalizing enough to hold fans over until next year, when the issues start coming out. “It’s probably taking longer than Ron thought it would, but that’s show biz,” Whedon said.

And after that, perhaps more “Serenity” comics focusing on other crew members. “There are more stories to tell,” Whedon teased. Could one of them be about, oh, say, River?

“Oh, that’s a great idea!” Summer Glau said.

“Yeah, that’s a great idea,” Whedon added, “and there will be more of River in the Serenity comics when Summer writes them. Come on, step up! You want your character in there more? Show up and write it.”

But seriously, since the comics generally take place before River “came to her full awareness,” Whedon said, “she doesn’t have as many colors to show as she does post-movie, which is why she hasn’t been as big a player in them. But it’s true, we need to bust her out a little bit more.”

Do you have burning questions about Shepherd Book? What other characters from “Serenity” would you like to see get their own spin-offs? Can the comics take the place of the TV show and/or film?

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