Serenity #5: Snow Biz

Serenity #5: Snow Biz (2006)
by Realbuzz Studios | Barbour Books
96 Pages - Full Color [ Youth / Youth Interest / Teen Fiction ]

Story and Creation - Buzz Dixon
Art - Min Kwon
Original Character Designs - Drigz Abrot

Publisher summary: A ski trip of hot-dogging and hot-tubbing lands Serenity in hot water. Serenity's dream of the perfect ski trip is about to melt down. First she's not sure her boss will let her off work. Then she's clueless what to expect once she's actually on the slopes. One thing's certain, no one causes more friction on the slopes than Serenity.

Reviewer: UC Pseudonym | Contact | 13 January 2008

NOTE: This review was written quite some time ago, hence in an older and less concise style. This is the last of these, so bear with me for the time being. Also pardon some distortion in the image... it's still better than the new cover.

My commentary on this volume will be shorter than before. Just as Ann has less to comment on over time, eventually my story comments start to disappear or become redundant. Still, there are a variety of new things to note in this volume.

Art as a Storytelling Device

For reasons unknown, the art quality declines significantly in this volume. I’ll leave commentary on that to those actually qualified. It is, however, distracting, especially in cases such as the NA meeting when Serenity is angry.

The flashback to Serenity refusing crack seems slightly odd (perhaps it is just that the “grayed-out” effect doesn’t work as well in color) but it is definitely a better way to bring the event to mind than to make a direct reference to a previous volume. Other than that, the only artistic device I intend to comment on is the picture addition used in two different places (i.e. Serenity + Tree = Crash). I don’t like this, mostly because it struck me as not that amusing. But that just makes it a failed attempt, not anything that detrimental to the book.


This improved, and I haven’t been complaining too much about it recently anyway. It has a solid and authentic feel more often than in the past, and at times succeeds in being witty or at least funny in a random way (“Willy, have you been huffing again?”).

There are more puns in this volume, and they feel slightly forced. They’re meant to be cheesy, which prevents them from being obnoxious to a certain extent, but because their corniness is meant to be funny they still work awkwardly. Fortunately, I can say that this volume has the first worthwhile pun, the Matthew 22:14 reference.

The weakest thing piece of dialogue wasn’t actually dialogue, technically. When Serenity and Kimberly are both thinking about Derek things seem slightly blunter and don’t flow as smoothly, though good elements are contained within it. At least the ending, with Derek thinking about basketball, succeeds in being funny. Undercutting your own melodrama always helps.


It wasn’t episodic. That’s a good thing. Otherwise, I don’t have so much to say.

Serenity seems cynical about prayer again, which I think is good. People generally don’t have one experience and then just completely change. Most of the time people, even people significantly more committed to some system of thought than Serenity, fluctuate between varying levels of faith. This progression of character is being handled better than some.

Unfortunately, the other thing I must mention is a negative one: the handling of the hot tub incident. It gets broken up by talking with Kimberly’s mother, which weakens the structural integrity of the scene. Furthermore, and partially due to this, Serenity’s objections aren’t handled clearly. This is a fine line, as they didn’t do that badly and beat readers over the head with her expectations, but somehow the execution doesn’t pull it off well. At least the misunderstanding has an authentic feel.


Relatively little this time around. The majority of the theological content (that hasn’t already been covered in previous commentary on character interactions) takes place during the Bible study. This is basically the same as before, in that it is simplistic and seems to be unduly subservient to the character plot. I’ll get the one minor complaint out of the way now: study verse? Singular? I guess I shouldn’t complain; it’s a typical high school group.

The issue with the heaping of coals is a significantly larger problem. I’ll refrain from mentioning any historical-cultural study against Tim because that is such a common misinterpretation. Still, there are various ramifications for that throughout the conversation and I feel it casts an unfortunately negative light on the overall themes of helping enemies and Christian love.

It also feels out of place, almost as if it was put in for the sake of getting to the fantasy sequence in which Kimberly’s marshmallows burn her. Amusing as it might have been in raw cheesiness, it wasn’t worth the negative implications and disruption of the conversation. Speaking of that, Serenity’s line, “I know who I’d like to dump hot coals on” seems as if it is in the wrong place. It should have gone before she began imagining, as it makes little sense within the narrative.

With the end of the volume comes a highly amusing filler page (“I will not write ‘dawgz’ in a script ever again”). Sure, it’s hilarious, but it also increased my respect for the author by several degrees. If Christians go into the manga industry with modesty and humility it is a major step in the right direction.

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