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A domestic turdstorm brews in Saga

Last Wednesday I managed to finally completely catch up on Spawn, the original Image comic series. I’m talking about (so far) 283 issues, and that’s just the main run. And you can bet that, at several points of this lengthy history, Spawn has exhibited a few failings in the writing department. Todd McFarlane’s pen notwithstanding, we can reasonably expect the story to get a little trite, a little dull; formulaic after so many issues. Some may call it the inevitable drying of the well of ideas. While things are considerably fresher in Saga‘s case, one might occasionally dread this series going the same way. Namely, every time the family reaches a state of peace and solidity.

Drama is the factor of engagement for many genres. We need that bitterness to distinguish the sweet serenity of reunion and the momentary notion that things may end up well. But we cannot expect Alana, Marko and Hazel to be broken up and feel as engaged as in issues past. If the outside threat via Ianthe’s vengeance will be the toughest baddie so far, the inner rift must also be an entirely different beast…

Issue #49
“This story will be the death of us”

As I’ve tastefully described in the title, most of the conflict of this issue develops under the Rocketship’s roof. Therefore, we’ll trim the meat by first looking at what goes on outside. With a naked Will in tow, Ianthe discovers they had just barely missed Marko and his family. Although this is a detriment to her plans, her resolve is not dampened in the least. In fact, she villanously revels in the chaos she will unleash once she reaches our heroes. Interestingly, the main focus of her actions has migrated to this end, whereas the grief for her dead fiance is an aspect exclusive to her hatred for Will. Silver lining in this ominous setting is Will himself, who looks quite a bit healthier.

Of course, that’s most likely a side product of the abuse he endures at Ianthe’s hands. Nonetheless, he may be yet competent enough to turn the tables on Ianthe if the time comes. As a side note, one of the morsels of emotional abuse Ianthe dishes out is the impression that Will’s actions are inconsequential, playing only to others’ relevance. This assessment is both kind-of-right and wrong. In very loose terms, Saga is indeed the story of Hazel and her parents, but he has definitely and dominantly taken full reins of his region of the narrative. So, if not only for basic comeuppance, we may look forward to Will proving Ianthe wrong in this regard in particular. Or perhaps even a comeback for his former friends.

Now onto the main course proper. This gets a little soap opera-ish.

The general state of things inside the Rocketship has been pretty swell. It would seem the greatest inconvenience is the fact that Marko can occasionally hear Sir Robot and Petrichor having intercourse late at night. But problems beneath the canopy of safety begin to arise from contrasting wants, particularly in two ways. First, Sir Robot is starting to develop feelings for Petri. Given the circumstance, he may either be an impulsive killer or a complete sap, as you do. However, while not confirming nor denying reciprocate feelings, Petri sees their nights of passion as a temporary ride, mostly due to the difference between their races.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The existing taboo by the coupling of Alana and Marko’s races extends to this pair as well, given the Robots’ political alliance to Landfall. There’s also the matter of Sir Robot’s royal lineage, regardless of his denial and discarding. While sad, it appears the most sensible course of action in order to avoid the same kind of persecution Alana and Marko endure on a daily basis. And speaking of which…

Here comes the second contrast in wants: Upsher and Doff vs. Alana and Marko.  By now, the journos are in the know about the fugitives’ story, but this was certainly off-the-record. Bringing the topic back up is not the most polite thing to do, so Upsher tries a second time, with an incentive: a source protection program. If they get to tell their story, the newspaper can use powerful magic to “transubtantiate” Alana, Marko and Hazel’s bodies into amphybians in order to protect their identities… and to end their persecution, once and for all. It’s expensive magic, but considering the potential story they’re sitting on, it really looks like a expense the Hebdomadal would be more than happy to afford.

It’s certainly a tasty deal. Hazel’s parents would be right to accept it. But they’d also be right to turn it down, which they do, out regard for Hazel’s biology. Plus, they are skeptical on the impact such an article could have on the war. It may baffle some and force some massive PR gymnastics, but it could ultimately do little in the grand scheme of things. Such is life, such is war. Although disappointed, Upsher and Doff still swear secrecy on the story. However, Sir Robot did overhear their conversation.

In the meantime, Hazel and Squire have a bit of a quarrel. This thing tends to happen between siblings. One accuses the other of taking a beloved toy, things get a little physical. Babysitter Ghûs intervenes to try and cool this down. Things get verbal, and somebody says something truly hurtful — tears ensue. Both tragic and commonplace at the same time, the kids touch each other’s world by something personal, linked to trauma they endured across their lives. For Hazel, it was believing Squire took Ponk Konk, unbeknowest to him, a memento of joy prior to a heartbreaking rift in her family. For Squire, it was Hazel mocking him for not having a mum.

Naturally, Hazel regrets that immediately. The conflict breaks off in the end, with Ghûs ashamed and convinced he could have handled it a lot better.

The issue ends with a conversation between Sir Robot and the Hebdomadal duo. Although it may not be the story they originally set out to get, the disgraced royal offers them a tasty consolation price. A little story he got in a brothel back in Pervious from a Robot sex worker. This lady serviced a Landfallian soldier with a nasty pre-sex guilt streak (awkward).  Fella emotionally spills the beans on Phang’s doom, revealing it was an inside job at the hands of the Landfall coalition. It’s dirt all over. Sir Robot had no interest in sharing this information. But then he heard about that source protection program…

Sir Robot looks pretty secure he can convince Petrichor to become an amphibian. And he’s sure his son will do as he’s told.  The formal royal looks ready to seal the deal, but we know robots pretty well by now. One thing is to listen to their words. Another is to read their faces, and see what they truly feel, want, and in this case, dread. Despite his apparent security, he is truly hoping they’ll say no.

As of now, the ramifications of such a deal menace to cause major ripples within and without this Rocketship household. Stay tuned for the age of chaos, likely to befall this galaxy.


Saga Issue #49 Credits
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Images courtesy of Image Comics

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Devotee of coffee, whiskey and baleful sentiment. I also write a lot of things.

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