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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

The Shepherd's Tale
Graphic novel (Dark Horse)

Story: Joss and Zack Whedon
Art: Chris Samnee
Cover: Steve Morris


Who was Shepherd Book before he took his message of salvation to the stars? Who was he when he learned to fight without pause, without remorse, and with a blinding fury? And how did he find God in a bowl of soup?


Read the full synopsis of The Shepherd's Tale at the Firefly/Serenity Database


Didja Notice?


Judging by the hat worn by the boy to whom Shepherd Book speaks on pages 1-2, he is the same one whom Kaylee had grown fond of, as seen in "A Better World".


On page 3, Book reveals that the Alliance ship that attacked and all-but-destroyed the sanctuary on Haven was an A.V.-Sparrow short-range gunship.


Page 6 suggests that Book left Serenity two years before his death on Haven in the Serenity movie (see "A Better World"). But, in the movie, Mal states it's been only 8 months that River has been on board (see "Triggered") and both River and Book first boarded on the same day, in "Serenity". Not only do these two durations contradict, but neither feels right. 8 months seems too short and 2 years too long.


On page 6, Jayne is wearing a previously unseen t-shirt with a flamingo on the front and a Chinese symbol on the left sleeve.


Trying to defend his life, Jayne remarks to Book, "I did right by those mud lovers," on page 6. This is a reference to the events of "Jaynestown".


Also on page 6, Jayne refers to River as a jelly brain.


The door to Book's quarters on page 9 does not look like the ones seen for the passengers' dorm of Serenity in episodes of Firefly. In the series, the passengers' rooms have sort of Chinese-style sliding, rectangular doors, not the vaguely oval-shaped ones seen in many other parts of the ship.


Pages 10-13 depict Book's decision to leave Southdown Abbey, which he told Kaylee he was leaving in "Serenity". Throughout this sequence, we see him toting the same luggage he had in that episode (though there are some minor differences that can be chalked up to artistic license).


Panels 4 and 5 of page 13 are flashbacks to Book's first encounter with Kaylee at the Persephone docks as seen in "Serenity". Kaylee's parasol is not quite colored correctly compared to the one seen in the episode. The parasol was patterned with stripes in a white, red, yellow, green order in the episode, but is shown as white, green, yellow, red here.


On page 19, panel 4, a pair of old boots is seen dangling from a power line above Book as he walks the streets. This is seen in many neighborhoods of our own world. There does not seem to be any one accepted reason for this practice. Some think they are a gang symbol or indication of a drug dealer in the area. Other explanations are that it is merely an expression of folk art.


On page 24, Book is shoved into an escape vessel, a pod similar to the one used by the Operative in "Living Weapon".


On page 26, Staff Sergeant Hope Claypool is being interrogated by officer Book. It's revealed that she was picked up outside an Alliance station on Dyton. As such, a reader of this story might wish to imagine her voice with a Cockney accent, as used by River in "Safe", where it's suggested that Dyton was colonized by people of British origin.


On page 27, an Alliance report tells that Book came up through the ranks from a law-enforcement outfit on Jiangyin. This planet appeared in "Safe".


On pages 30-31, the Alliance soldiers are shown wearing the Starship Troopers body armor, as seen in various episodes of Firefly (see "Serenity").


In the flashback scenes in which Book is a member of the Browncoats before the war, he is depicted wearing his hair in cornrows, as he is later in "A Better World".


Page 35 reveals that Book's left eye was replaced with a biorobotic eye as a spy device while he was with the Browncoats. Perhaps if the TV series had continued, we would have seen Book make use of his bionic eye in some novel manner?


Page 37 reveals that the identity of Derrial Book was stolen from a young man whom the "new" Book, our Book, murdered. Page 43 reveals that Book's real name is Henry Evans.


The logo on the independence movement flyer on page 37 is a variation on the flag of the Independent Planets during the Unification War.
Independents' flag Independents' logo on flyer


Chinese translations
Page/Panel Chinese English
6/3 Chinese symbol on left sleeve of Jayne's t-shirt Unknown.
13/1 Blue Sun logo is seen on a shipping container, though the Chinese characters (Qing Ri) in the logo look odd. Blue Sun
13/2 Chinese characters on crate. Unknown.
14/4 Chinese character in neon light. Unknown.
Page 43 Chinese words appear at the top of the author's afterword. Possibly the Chinese characters are saying the quote from Shepherd Book that is printed in English: "The journey is the worthier part..."


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