the Little Red Reviewer

The Shepherd’s Tale, by Joss & Zack Whedon

Posted on: November 8, 2010

GraphicNovelNovember continues with some Brothers Whedon. Joss Whedon took fandom by storm with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. Dollhouse might not have been a hit, but any comicshop worth it’s weight in Darkhorse knows carrying anything Firefly, Buffy, or Angel will bring in the Browncoats.

If you are a Serenity/Firefly fan, I shouldn’t have to tell you The Shepherd’s Tale by Joss and Zack Whedon is a must have. There is no more mysterious character in the Firefly storyline than Shepherd Book. He’s a preacher who knows how to fight, a renegade who carries legitimate Alliance ID papers. He is a man made entirely of secrets, and this is your chance to learn them.

Shepherd’s Tale starts off right before the movie Serenity starts. Haven is under attack, and Shepherd quite literally sees his life pass before his eyes, in reverse order. Once upon a time, we met Shepherd on the pilot episode of Firefly, when Kaylee asked him where he was headed, and he said he didn’t know. One box of strawberries later, and Shepherd has bought passage on Serenity, to wherever it happens to be going. How could we have known he had just, that morning, left the monastery?

And what led him to join a monastery, to pledge his life to God, in the first place? What does a man go through to realize his only hope is start over? I won’t spoil anything for you, just to say that Zack Whedon did the character justice. More than once I said “no way!” out loud while reading. Who he was, what he went through, the things he did, Serenity truly is the place for him.

Graphic novels aren’t cheap, and this one’ll cost ya about fifteen bucks. If you’re a Serenity fan, I say go for it. The hardback covers are a nice surprise as well. It’s not the longest graphic novel you’re ever going to read, but I gotta say, when I got to the last page, I felt it was the right place for the story to end.

The only downside of Shepherd’s Tale is the artwork. I don’t know if it was a stylistic choice, to draw everyone who wasn’t Shepherd Book in a rotoscoped/impressionist style, but let’s just say it’s a good thing I already know who all these people are. The artwork is pretty blah, but if you are an obsessive browncoat (and what browncoat isn’t?) you’ll want to add The Shepherd’s Tale to your collection.

15 Responses to "The Shepherd’s Tale, by Joss & Zack Whedon"

I only discovered Firefly earlier this year, and fell instantly in love. I’ve been thinking about buying this one, and after reading your review I might just get it as a Christmas present for myself. I’m dying to know Shepherd’s secrets.


Loved the Firefly tv series, and the Serenity movie. Tried to watch Dollhouse, but there was just something not quite together about the show. I don’t know how all these Serenity-themed graphic novels have flown below my vision horizon all this time. Gotta look a little harder at Barnes & Noble, I guess.


Hilde – if you’re going to buy one Serentiy graphic novel, and only one, i think this should be it. Those Left Behind and Better Days are decent, but they’re just more storyline, no secrets. Shepherd is major top secret stuff!

Jon – none of this stuff was ever really advertised, which is too bad. It’s Whedon, it’s canon, it’s goodstuff. But I’ve never seen it at Barnes & Noble or any “book” store. Your best bet is to hit up a comics shop.


Nice to see you covering it! Ordering my copy now I think.


my thanks to you, had i not seen the blurb on your site, I wouldn’t have even thought to look for it at the comic shop. Yay for wordpress tag surfer!


So glad you posted — I didn’t know this was out yet! Grabbed it for my library (where I work) …. and looking forward to reading it when it gets here. I was always curious about Shepherd. 🙂


Like everyone else has said, I too like the Firefly show and Serenity movie. Could never get into comics that are based on shows or movies.


I didnt kno they even made a graphic novel explaining Shepherd’s story! I was just watching Firefly thinking about how aggravating it was that we would never kno Shepherd’s story because they got cancelled. I’m soo excited now! 🙂
I still think another channel should pick them up. Like HBO or Showtime! That would be amazing. 🙂


Agressive Reader – Once upon a time I wouldn’t have been caught dead reading a tv-show or movie tie-in, thanks to a handful of horrible Star Wars books. But these days. . . .

Steph – now that would be worthing paying for HBO or Showtime! but with so many of the actors involved in other things, well, 😦


Oh, I’ve been waiting for this for a while–I’m glad it’s good!


Ooh, I’m so glad to hear this is good! I’ve had my eye on it for a while now, and it sounds like exactly what I’d hoped it would be.


After staring at the art for a while, I *think* I understand the intent.

The faces of everyone but Book are done in that rotoscope/impressionist style because the art represents his memory. Things like facial details fade fairly quickly, but they are also unimportant to the story.

Or I could be over-thinking it.


David, that actually makes perfect sense. memory is about sounds and feelings, everything BUT facial expressions.

i suddenly feel a little bad about knocking the art. . .but I do still wish it was a little different.


I still think the art is jarring because it’s both different from the “Firefly” look, and sequential art in general. It defies most of the comic art standards. It’s good art, but it’s a little hard to swallow.


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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