This review was previously posted at Word of the Nerd on October 30th.saga15-cover

If you’ll recall from Issue #12, the ending narration by Hazel indicated that she and her family had been residing at the home of author D. Oswald Heist for a whole week before Prince Robot IV arrived in his pursuit of Marko and Alana. The current arc is Hazel recounting those blissful few days before what I assume will be some kind of showdown or epic chase between her family and Prince Robot or the convergence of all stories with The Will, Gwendolyn, Lying Cat, and Sophie joining the fray as well. Though based on how this issue ended…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The benefits of Brian K. Vaughan’s slow burn of storytelling is that we get to spend a lot of time with these characters. In any other book, once Prince Robot shows up and we know the family is trying to escape, the narrative would pick up from there and run full steam ahead. Vaughan does the exact opposite. He takes his time, giving us more information not just in regards to our main characters, but others on the periphery as we see with the amphibious journalists, Upsher and Doff, who’re still unpacking the true story of Alana’s supposed “capture” by the enemy. After speaking with Alana’s step-mother, they’ve now moved on to Alana’s former commanding officer, Countess Robot X, who gets an amazingly badass splash page introduction. Fiona Staples continues to up the ante of impressive images with Countess Robot, her arm a sword, standing near the body of the dragon she’s just slain while ordering people to get the carcass off her runway. The women of Saga do not disappoint! Anyway, the Countess reveals to our journalists that Alana was sent to Wreath – where she would eventually meet Marko – as punishment for hesitating to drop bombs on civilians. She did bomb them with amazing precision, but it’s the hesitancy that got her sent away.

Vaughan’s focus on Alana’s past is interesting because, though a capable warrior, her priorities have now shifted to domesticity. In fact, she likes the idea of doing laundry and taking care of her child, which Klara points out shouldn’t be her focus at all. Apparently Marko’s mother adheres to the notion that women must immediately contribute to the workforce and the betterment of their society as a means of setting the right example for their children instead of coddling them. Alana is both impressed with her mother-in-law’s progressivism and offended by her assumption that she’s not doing right by Hazel. Heist gets in on the discussion when he points out that she and Marko will have to earn money at some point since their time with him can only be finite with patrols dropping in from time to time. Even Marko has his reservations about raising Hazel entirely on their spaceship tree, causing Alana to feel ganged up on as she storms out. I should also point out that this is happening during a round of the popular Wreath game Nun Tuj Nun with three rounds involving drawing, arm wrestling, and the psych-out. Guess which round this argument happens during?

Countess Robot XThe theme of domesticity as an illusion, however, is part and parcel to the dangers looming over Marko and Alana. Playing the role of doting mother and wife, despite being a fugitive, is important to Alana because it can’t last, at least not in the way she wants it to. Hazel’s narration drives the point home perfectly. Her parents never just let her win games as she was growing up because, in their own way, they needed her to understand loss. Here, we get to see where that lesson originated. Staying with Heist is out of the question, but there’s no way, as Klara confesses to Heist, that Marko and Alana can just fill out job applications while she plays nanny to her granddaughter. One way or another they’ll have to move on and find a way to survive. Both Heist and Marko allude to different plans for how they might improve their situation, but that’s for another issue. For now, Marko and Alana are content to enjoy their slight reprieve from being on the run. Which may or may not involve sexy times.

Vaughan extends the theme a bit further with the preparations made by The Will to continue pursing Marko, Alana, and Prince Robot. Though he seemed content to stay on the planet not so far away from his bounty’s location, he proves the appropriateness of his name when he resists the temptation to stay and play house with Gwendolyn and Sophie. The ship all patched up, our illusions of things working out for the anti-heroes of Saga are quickly dashed when we learn that the planet itself secretes a parasite through its food sources, creating hallucinations to lure hosts into its ecosystem. The turn comes swift as Will learns his visions were not his own and suffers what could be a killing blow from the last person he expected.

Final Thoughts: Nun Tuj Nun will be the next big thing, you guys. Invest now! Also, go read this book!

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  1. […] writing on Saga has received high praise, especially from this author, for his criticisms of art, war, and media, much of which stems from what John Parker of […]

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