Leaves on the Wind has one central theme that stretches throughout its galactic core and on towards its border planets: Family.
Family defines the crew of the Serenity. They work together as a curiously assembled cohort (think of an Ikea unit built without the instructions and the wrong parts, and it’s on fire, and psychic, and in space). Beyond the job, they also spend their free time in each other’s company, with some of the crew sharing all manner of biological relationships, too. They are the post-nuclear family.
Firefly has presented this idea numerous times, from Wash wanting to take a holiday with his wife, to Simon wanting to rescue his sister, and most pointedly in exchanges such as this one from episode, “Ariel:”
Jayne: The money was too good. I got stupid. I’m sorry, okay? Be reasonable. What are you taking it so personal for? It ain’t like I ratted you out to the Feds.
Mal: Oh, but you did! You turn on any of my crew, you turn on me! But since that’s a concept you can’t seem to wrap your head around, then you got no place here. You did it to me, Jayne, and that’s a fact.
In Leaves on the Wind, these crew dynamics are explored further. Jayne has left the Serenity crew to live with his Ma on Cobb Ranch but wants back in. Inara and Mal are in a relationship, as are Kaylee and Simon; two charged undercurrents that the television show held off on consummating because unresolved sexual tension sells. In the comic, on the other hand, it’s now a handy way of getting two orbiting bodies tightly packed in one frame while they have a conversation about something else. It’s also great fan service.
The newest addition to the crew composition is Zoe and Wash’s daughter Emma. In the same way that pregnancy and birth became a unifying factor in Firefly episode, “Heart of Gold,” the crew now also has a new rallying point for their non-traditional family relationships in further adventures. (Simon and Kaylee become surrogate parents momentarily in the comic.) A neat reversal in this motherhood journey occurs at the midpoint of Leaves on the Wind, as Zoe has a strong mother figure of her own when she’s incarcerated. Throughout her ordeal, as Zoe strives to get back to her daughter and crew, she also knows that her Serenity “family” will absolutely come to rescue her…
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