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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Firefly: The Sting (Part 1) Firefly
"The Sting" Part 1
Chapter One of Firefly: The Sting
Graphic Novel
BOOM! Studios
Written by Delilah S. Dawson
Illustrated by Pius Bak
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Cover by Marco D'Alfonso
November 2019


Saffron approaches the women of Serenity with a proposition.


Notes from the Firefly/Serenity Chronology


It's not clear exactly when the story of The Sting takes place. Shepherd Book does not appear in the story at all, which might suggest it takes place after "Those Left Behind" Part 3, where Book leaves Serenity to take up residence on the planet Haven. However, Inara also leaves the ship in that issue, yet she is present in our current story; furthermore it seems in this chapter that Inara has not yet told Mal that she is leaving the ship. The story has to take place before Wash's death in the Serenity movie ("Living Weapon"), but River makes a couple of references (in "The Sting" Part 5) to swallowing a bug again on the hover-mule, which happened for the first time in that movie ("Triggered"). We could suppose that Book was simply on a leave of absence from the ship for some reason here, not yet having permanently left the ship. As for River's bug-swallowing, it might be argued that the "first" instance has not occurred yet and River is confused from having seen a vision of the future in which will swallow a bug in "Triggered"; it has been implied a couple of times in past stories that River gets occasional glimpses of future events (see "Crystal"). From these clues and suppositions, the bullpen at PopApostle has voted to place this story in between "Heart of Gold" and "Objects in Space".


Didja Know?


Firefly: The Sting was originally released as a hardcover graphic novel by BOOM! Studios in November 2019. The graphic novel is broken down into 5 chapters, each illustrated by a different artist. Each chapter is 22 pages long, the length of an average comic book, so it seems like this story may have originally been intended to be released as either 5 issues of the ongoing Firefly comic book or a separate 5-issue limited series. Regardless, I have chosen to break up this graphic novel into 5 parts for the PopApostle Firefly studies.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this issue







Badger (mentioned only)



Carolan docking port officials (unnamed)



Logar Keppelwhite (mentioned only) 


Didja Notice?


The back cover art of the hardcover is broken up into panels of images pertaining to the story inside. If you hold it in the light at an angle, words can be seen printed over the images. The words are fragments of dialog spoken throughout the story.


The story opens with Serenity approaching the planet Carolan. This is the first mention of this world in the 'Verse.


On page 3 of this chapter, Inara and the girls head to a spa on Carolan in the hover-mule. The hover-mule was originally first seen in the Serenity movie (see "Triggered"), apparently having replaced the ground-based ATV damaged in "War Stories", suggesting this story takes place sometime after "War Stories".


Is there a PopApostle reader out there able to translate the Chinese characters on the outside of the spa building on page 4 of this chapter? I'm not sure they're even real Chinese characters.

spa sign


I have not been able to identify the song River starts to sing on page 5 of this chapter. Her lyrics are "Oh, sisters, let's go down to the river to play." Possibly it is a play on the old 19th Century American spiritual song "Down in the River to Pray".


On pages 6-7 of this chapter, Inara bemoans the unsteady not-quite relationship she has with Mal. This would indicate the story takes place sometime before the events of "Leaves on the Wind" Part 1, where Inara and Mal are seen to be in the midst of a sexual relationship (though they still bicker).


On page 8 of this chapter, after being ambushed by Saffron's introductory proposition, Inara says, "Unless you're proposing I leave you in a garbage bin and call the marshals again, the answer is no." Inara left Saffron locked in a garbage bin at the end of their last meeting in "Trash".


On page 12 of this chapter, Kaylee remarks that Saffron tried to turn Serenity and her crew over to pirates. This occurred in "Our Mrs. Reynolds".


Also on page 12 of this chapter, Saffron calls Kaylee "little mouse". River was also seen to be called by this nickname by her fellow students at the Academy in "The R. Tam Sessions".


On page 13 of this chapter, Zoe is reflecting on how Wash wants a child with her. This implies that the story takes place before she learns she is pregnant in "Float Out".


Chinese translations
(Thanks to the Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary for the translations)
Page # Chinese English
4 Inara calls Kaylee baobei "sweetheart"
12 Saffron calls Serenity "luh-suh". "garbage"
13 Zoe says "gos se". "crap"


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