I’ve been taking Saga for granted. Some of you have been taking Saga for granted. Let’s not do that. This comic book is a miracle. One that will make you cry.
There’s a new issue of Saga out this week and it’s simply harrowing. Don’t get me wrong: the latest chapter is still funny, heartbreaking and allegorically topical in that keenly-observed way Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have seemingly mastered. But Saga #29 also puts the characters in the bleakest situation they’ve been in yet. And, honestly, it doesn’t seem like anybody here is strong enough to carry on.
When I first fell in love with Saga, it was because Vaughan and Staples presented readers with a plucky, star-crossed couple doing their best to create a loving family against ridiculous odds. Alana and Marko fought, worried and fucked like real people, despite having horns and wings and being chased by magical and robot warriors. Their concerns about bringing up a kid borne of conflicting cultures in an uncaring universe hit home for me and the sci-fi fantasy trappings add an upscaled sense of scope to the proceedings.
This latest arc in Saga has ramped up the ideological drama, with two-thirds of the book’s nuclear family held captive by insurgents trying to ransom their comrades back from the galaxy’s warring governments. On the other side of the galaxy, Marko and Prince Robot IV are trying to cross the void and rescue their children from The Last Revolution.
It was easy to fall in love with the couple and their daughter Hazel. They’re on the run! They’re sarcastic! Hazel’s cute baby shtick never became the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard!
And when things weren’t all smiles, I pushed through central and tertiary characters’ bitterness and held on through the cliffhangers because they all felt real enough to fret about and cheer for. Even the asshole extremists of The Last Revolution offer up some seductively appealing rants about how the galactic war has ruined the lives of individuals for no good reason. I still hate them but I know where they’re coming from. They’re the heroes of their own stories.
Saga is talking almost exclusively about subject matter that most genre comics don’t go near. It reminds me of friendships that have faded from my life and the random encounters that have altered the way I think about myself. Hell, it comes uncomfortably close to channeling exactly how pissed-off I feel when I argue with my significant other about being a co-parent and a partner in a household. The series continues to deliver dead-on snapshots of human nature and interactions that folks don’t talk about in polite company. It doesn’t need a constant string of reboots or editorial stunts to feel fresh. Vaughan and Staples are clearly pulling from real life—all of it, not just the awesome parts. Saga will have an end, like all good things. Let’s just keep on appreciating it while it’s here.
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