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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Firefly: Watch How I Soar Firefly
Watch How I Soar
Graphic Novel
BOOM! Studios
Lettered by Fabio Amelia
Cover by Miguel Mercado
November 2020


Attend previously unseen moments in the life of Wash-That-Was...and a future moment of Wash-That-Could-Have-Been. 


Notes from the Firefly/Serenity Chronology


I have placed this graphic novel after "Take the Sky" since both stories tie into the events of the Serenity movie. The conceit of this graphic novel, according to the blurb on the back cover, is that these stories are important events in Wash's life that he is seeing flash before his eyes at the moment of his death in "Living Weapon" (the final act of the Serenity movie). 


Didja Know?


Firefly: Watch How I Soar is a hardcover graphic novel by BOOM! Studios published in November 2020. The graphic novel is broken down into 6 stories, each written and illustrated by different writers and artists. The conceit, according to the blurb on the back cover, is that these stories are important events in Wash's life that he is seeing flash before his eye at the moment of his death in "Living Weapon" (the final act of the Serenity movie). Each story has its own title in the graphic novel, so this study will separate each story below by title, writer, and artist(s).


The overall title of this graphic novel, Watch How I Soar, comes from dialog spoken by Wash as he makes his final flight in "Living Weapon", "I am a leaf on the wind; watch how I soar." A previous Firefly/Serenity mini-series published by Dark Horse Comics titled "Leaves on the Wind", focused on Wash's legacy.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this graphic novel 







Hoban Washburne, Sr.


Uncle Jake (mentioned only)






Harry (dies in this GN)

Lucy (Harry's daughter)

Harry's two other daughters (unnamed)

Lucy's aunt (unnamed, mentioned only)


Pickens (aka Alpha)


Jemima Frye (mentioned only, deceased)

Aloysius Frye (mentioned only, deceased)

Shepherd Book





Didja Notice?


The cover of this graphic novel depicts Wash at the flight console of Serenity. Console layout appears to be that seen in the Firefly TV series, not the revamped console seen in the Serenity movie (beginning in "Triggered"). None of his dinosaur toys are present on the console, though he does hold one in his left hand, a stegosaurid. Another stegosaurid image appears on the back cover.


The double-page spread of the Contents page features an image of what is probably a Brachiosaurus.


The graphic novel begins with another quote from Wash, "We gotta go to the crappy town where I'm a hero." This was originally said by him in the episode "Jaynestown", where Jayne was worshipped as a hero in a small lower-class community.



Written by Jeff Jensen

Illustrated by Jorge Monlongo


The first (splash)page of this story appears to depict Wash's grave, with the headstone having been shattered by a sapling growing up through it. We also get an underground view of the grave and see that the saplings roots are growing through Wash's skeleton. But where are the headstones of the others who were buried next to him in "Living Weapon" (Shepherd Book and Mr. Universe)?


The spacesuits worn by Wash and Zoe in this story look like the same ones seen worn by the crew on occasion in TV episodes of Firefly.


On page 10, Wash remarks to Zoe that his "very important role in the great cosmic narrative of existence" is "supporting the big damn heroes that I love with jesty wisdom." The phrase "big damn heroes" is based on an exchange of dialog between Mal and Zoe in the episode "Safe", so this moment must have occurred some time after that episode. Other than that, it is hard to say when in the chronology this moment takes place. Wash and Zoe appear to be removing Reaver body parts from the starboard engine of Serenity while in orbit around a planet. The only known encounters with Reavers by the crew are in "Government Goods", "Bushwhacked", "A Better World", and "Living Weapon". But, "Government Goods" and "Bushwhacked" take place before "Safe" (and it didn't appear that Serenity hit any Reaver bodies floating in space). And in "A Better World" and "Living Weapon", while it's possible the ship could have hit a Reaver body while passing through the Reaver "shipyard" in space surrounding Miranda, the crew had no time to stop and clean the ship before Wash's death in "Living Weapon". I suppose we must assume there was an as yet unrecorded encounter with Reavers sometime between "Safe" and "A Better World".


Also on page 10, Wash pushes a Reaver head out into space, saying, "Farewell, poor Reaver Yorick." The name "Yorick" is a reference to Shakespeare's Hamlet, in which Yorick is a dead court jester whose skull is exhumed from his grave.


Wash and Zoe are seen taking a vacation on Windcrest. This is the first mention of this world in the 'Verse.


On pages 14-15, Wash and Zoe go paragliding using the hovermule as a tow.


"The Land"

Written and illustrated by Ethan Young


This story takes place on Xallus, an Alliance-controlled moon of the planet Terok IV. The population is just 2,706. This is the first mention of this world in the 'Verse.


Many of the names in this story are influenced by the 1993-1999 TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, with characters named Kira and Julian and the planet Terok IV is a play on the original Cardassian name of the space station, Terok Nor, re-named by the Federation, Deep Space Nine.


In panel 1 of the story, a business with a name beginning with "PIGGY" is seen on Xallus. Perhaps it is a play on the name of the Piggly Wiggly chain of supermarkets in the southern and midwestern states of the modern day United States.


Kira calls the small ship owned by Hoban Washburne, Sr. a "turkey", likely due to its shape and the orientation of its two pivoting engines when landing. This is the first mention of such ships in the 'Verse.



Wash's father is also named Hoban Washburne, making Wash's full name Hoban Washburne, Jr. We see here that Wash's father also went by the nickname "Wash".


In the last panel of page 21, Wash, Sr. is seen to wear a wedding band. He soon pawns it for 200 credits to get his ship fixed.


Wash, Sr. refers to his son as Junior.


Young Wash visits an attraction called Dino World on Xallus. Here, the proprietor, Kwan, tells him that Tyrannosaurus rex was the king of the dinosaurs and that it could tear through its enemies "like you or I tear through char sew bao for lunch." The name Tyrannosaurus rex is Latin for "tyrant lizard king". Char sew bao is a Chinese dish, a bun filled with barbecue pork.


Just inside the entrance of Dino World are statues of what appear to be Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and Apatosaurus.


On page 26, the splash page of life on Earth-That-Was-in-dinosaur-times appears to depict a Tyrannosaurus rex confronting a Stegosaurus, with a Pteranodon flying overhead.


Kwan gives the Washburnes a small crate of toy dinosaurs. This would seem to be how Wash obtained his famous toys in the first place.


On page 31, young Wash is playing with two of the dinosaur toys. The toys appear to be a Stegosaurus and a Ceratosaurus. Here, Wash begins to tell a story with the two dinosaurs that has the same setup as the one he will use decades later near the beginning of "Serenity".


Wash makes a remark to his father that it's nice when two people can be together without a shocking twist that tears them apart. This may indicate some resentment on his part about whatever it was that seems to have made Wash, Sr. a single parent.


Wash has an uncle named Jake. It's not clear if this uncle is related on his father's side or his mother's (or just a friend of the family he calls uncle).


On the last page of this story, Wash, Sr. takes the two dino toys from his sleeping son and places them on the top edge of the ship's flight console.


"Born for the Stars"

Written and illustrated by Jared Cullum


A number of Firefly-class or Firefly-predecessors are seen throughout this story.


"Take the Sky Away"

Written and illustrated by Jorge Corona

Colored by Fabiana Mascolo


This story reveals that Centipede-class ships carrying huge loads often have to use external acceleration rings to break atmosphere. This is the first mention of both of these technology types in the 'Verse.



Written and illustrated by Giannis Milonogiannis

Colored by Giada Marchisio


The bridge of Serenity is not drawn very accurately in this story.

Serenity bridge


"The Flight Lesson"

Written by Jeff Jensen

Illustrated by Jordi Perez

Colored by Maxflan Araujo


This is the final story in the volume. It seems to be an apocryphal tale of Wash as a father to his and Zoe's daughter Emma when she has become a teenager.


Emma first appeared as a newborn baby in "Leaves on the Wind" Part 1.


The dinosaur toys Wash plays with on page 90 appear to be a Pteranodon and a Velociraptor.


Wash has a big red button (like the one he rigged up in Serenity in "Out of Gas") on his ship.


In this version of reality, Wash lives, but Mal is dead. Wash and Emma visit his grave in Serenity Valley on the planet Hera. The headstone is identical to the ones given to Wash, Book, and Mr. Universe at the end of "Living Weapon".


On page 110, Wash mumbles about his daughter, "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal." This is a line we first heard him utter while playing with his dinosaurs in "Serenity".


Chinese translations
(Thanks to the Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary for the translations)
Page # Chinese English
21 Wash says, "Why's this moon smell like gou shi?" gou shi=shit


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