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Shiny surprise during new visit to 'Serenity'

By Doug Gross, CNN
Dark Horse Comics is offering two covers for "Float Away." This is Frank Stockton's cover art. Jo Chen's cover can be found at www.darkhorse.com or TFAW.com.
Dark Horse Comics is offering two covers for "Float Away." This is Frank Stockton's cover art. Jo Chen's cover can be found at www.darkhorse.com or TFAW.com.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New "Serenity" comic focuses on fan favorite Wash
  • "Float Out" has a surprise ending that we won't spoil
  • Next up for "Serenity": The Shepherd gets a story

Editor's Note: This post does *not* contain spoilers for "Serenity: Float Out" but does contain a big one for the movie "Serenity" and series "Firefly." So go watch them both -- now.

(CNN) -- To say the gone-too-soon series "Firefly" has a devoted fan base might be the biggest understatement in sci-fi fandom.

Eight years after Fox grounded the crew from Serenity, a loyal following still longs for any chance to return to director Joss Whedon's fully realized mashup of outer space and the Old West.

Luckily for them, Whedon is a comic-book fan.

In 2005's "Serenity: Those Left Behind" and 2008's "Serenity: Better Days" -- both produced by Whedon for Dark Horse Comics -- we get to see Captain Mal and friends in action.

Now, with "Serenity: Float Out," there's a chance to stop in for a more personal visit with one of the crew's most beloved characters.

"Float Out," released Thursday by Dark Horse, is written by actor, comedian and "Firefly" devotee Patton Oswalt based on an idea he floated to Whedon.

It focuses on Wash, the wise-cracking ace pilot whose stunning death at the end of "Serenity" can still bring some devoted browncoats to tears with a single mention.

The one-off book opens with three friends of Wash (full name: Hoban Washburne) pausing to remember him before christening a new ship -- The Jetwash -- in his honor. That setup serves as an excuse to flash back to three stories from Wash's past, each showing a different side of his endearing personality.

Diehard fans won't learn a whole lot about Wash that they didn't already know. And anyone hoping to see the entire Serenity crew back together will be disappointed.

But Wash and surprise endings apparently go together.

There's a big one in the book's final pages -- one that both offers a huge emotional payoff for "Firefly" fans and will have them desperately hoping for more.

Different from Whedon's fully involved "Buffy" series on Dark Horse, the occasional "Serenity" books feel like brief visits with old friends. And "Float Out" is a good one.

The next visit is scheduled for November, when "Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale," a look at the backstory of Shepherd Book, is due to be released.