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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

"A Christmas Cobb"
Firefly: The Holiday Special #1
BOOM! Studios
Written by Jeff Jensen
Illustrated by Jordi Perez, Vincenzo Federici, Fabiana Mascolo
Colored by Francesco Segala (w/ assists by Gloria Martinelli), Lucia Di Giammarino, Fabiana Mascolo
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Cover by InHyuk Lee
December 2021


Jayne learns the true meaning of Christmas.


Notes from the Firefly/Serenity Chronology


This story seems to take place after most of the crew have left the ship for a stay on Haven after the events of "Blue Sun Rising" Part 7, but also apparently after Mal has left in a funk sometime after the events of "No Power in the 'Verse" Part 6...except, of course, by then the rest of the crew had returned, but then took off again. The real reason behind the twisted up continuity is that BOOM! Studios initiated its own continuity, accepting only the events of the Firefly TV series and (sort of) the Serenity movie. The stories of the Dark Horse Serenity comics are ignored, as are the novels published by Titan. Still, with some contortions, we can place this story after "No Power in the 'Verse" Part 6 and before "Return to Earth-That-Was" Part 1.


Didja Know?


Firefly: The Holiday Special did not have an actual title to the featured story. I came up with "A Christmas Cobb" based on events in the story.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this issue


Mal (in flashback and visions only)


Zoe (in flashback and visions only)

Wash (in flashback and visions only)


Simon (in flashback and visions only)

Inara (in flashback and visions only)

Shepherd Book (in flashback and visions only)




Lank (in Jayne's vision only)

curiosity shop barker

Radiant Cobb (in Jayne's vision only)

Emma (in Jayne's vision only)

Washbot (in Jayne's vision only)

Dane (in Jayne's vision only) 


Didja Notice?


As the story opens, Serenity is strung with Christmas lights on its exterior.


In the 'Verse, Christmas is mostly known as Sheng Dan Jieh, Chinese for "Holy Birth Festival."


Jayne is wearing the chullo hat made for him by his mother that he received in the mail in "The Message".


Kaylee is famed for her talent of turning protein bars and synthetic foodstuffs into savory desserts.


On page 5, Jayne retorts to River, "What tzao-gao business is it of yours what I see in my head?!" Tzao-gao literally means "messy cake" in Chinese, but is generally used for virtually any short curse phrase you'd like to use in a sentence, such as "crap", "damn it", or "god damn."


Page 6 depicts Jayne at Li Shen's Bazaar. This space bazaar first appeared in "The Message".


On page 8, Jayne says, "You ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng!" This is Chinese for "frog-humping son of a bitch!"


On page 9, a sign at the bazaar invites patrons to see the one true Shengdan Laoren, a.k.a. Santa. Sheng dan lao ren is Chinese for "Christmas Old Man", the Chinese version of Santa Claus. Jayne sees the red-and-white dressed skeleton of the figure on the next page with a sign reading, "SHENGDANLAOREN! ORIGIN BLOOMINGTON, BAZAAR OF AMERICA, EARTH-THAT-WAS." As far as I can find, the Bazaar of America is fictitious. There are a number of cities and towns named Bloomington in the United States of America.


In panel 4 of page 9, Jayne sees the same "alien" in a jar that Simon and Kaylee saw in "The Message".


In the background of the above panel is an angel skeleton, with its plaque stating its origin on Wender's Moon, Xuan Wu system. This is the first mention of Wender's Moon in the 'Verse. Xuan Wu is the main star of the Kalidasa system.


On page 12, Jayne's vision of the deceased Shepherd Book uses the phrase "through a glass darkly." This is a phrase found in the Book of Corinthians in the Bible.


The vision of Shepherd Book remarks that he's become Jayne's "Ghost of Shen Dan Jieh Past." This refers to the Ghost of Christmas Past, a character in Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol.


On page 13, Book takes Jayne to his (Jayne's) "homeworld" of Sycorax. Book remarks that it was Jayne's eleventh home in as many years as a kid. Jayne and brother Mattie lived there when their mother took a job as the off-season caretaker of a lake resort lodge.


Jayne and Mattie's mother had spun a story that their missing father was a secret agent in the Xuan Wu system.


As Mattie-boy pulls Jayne-boy out of the ice-cold water of the frozen lake, he says "Probably gonna get damp-lung saving you..." Mattie was said to suffer from damplung in "The Message". Damplung appears to be a fictional disease name, but may be a slang term for pneumonia, which involves fluid filling the alveoli of the lungs.


In Jayne's vision on page 18, the statue of himself he sees is the one that the mudders put up in the town of Canton on Higgins' Moon as seen in "Jaynestown".


On page 19, Jayne reveals that he once had a pet turtle named Vera. He currently has a favorite gun named Vera, as seen in several past stories.


In Jayne's vision on page 20, Shengdanlaoren rides an anti-gravity sled pulled by four horses.


On page 22, Shengdanlaoren remarks that the glitching septic system and flies are spreading blue death. "Blue death" is another name for cholera, a bacterial infection usually the result of poor sanitation in a community. The nickname comes from the blue-grey tint that skin may take on due to extreme loss of fluids.


The "Ghost of Christmas Future" shows Jayne a future vision of Washbot, who will not meet the crew until "Return to Earth-That-Was" Part 1, so it seems Jayne had a genuine precognitive vision. He also sees a potential future crewmember named Dane, who replaces Jayne himself on Serenity.


Dane mentions having spent six weeks in a Caliban spider-hole. Caliban is the only moon of Miranda.


On page 29, Kaylee refers to Jayne as one of the "hideous shee-niou men." Shee-niou is Chinese for "piss washed."


On page 30, it appears that Kaylee has dressed up the doorways of all the main crew quarters with Christmas lights.


Emma shows Jayne his body on an asteroid called Lethe, a necropolis where the corpses of worthless people are unceremoniously discarded and forgotten. This is the first mention of Lethe in the 'Verse, though it may be the same asteroid mentioned as Leyte in the Kalidasa system in The Verse in Numbers.


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