Saturday, July 13, 2024

A Bittersweet Reunion for Saga’s 30th issue

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It sometimes may be easy to take it for granted, with the long dominance of the big brands like Marvel or DC that a title, thus a story, would go on and on, perhaps indefinitely. But what about our “indie darlings”, those who lack the sense of tradition that would ensure their lengthy stay? The notion that a promising newcomer in the print could simply end without a whimper or a gasp because of a variety of circumstances is certainly not a pleasant one. However, it doubles both as a scenario to dread as well as a an accolade when a new comic overcomes that peril. Saga’s acclaim as a ‘young title’ is well deserved, and little by little, it has amassed a loyal following. This is telling of a creative direction: in lieu of tradition as a safeguard, we get consistent quality.

But then, sometimes a tenfold issue works as a poignant reminder of how this newcomers have made it so far. Numbers-wise, it’s somewhat far from a milestone (we’ll see on issue 50). This issue is still one such milestone about everything else. It is Saga, cruel, shameless, sweet and true, at its finest.

Issue #30

Today we kick off on the aftermath of Marko and Prince Robot IV escaping the Robot Kingdom’s Royal Guard. While I had at first thought Team Furious Dads featuring Walrus Shepherd’s escape had come at a price (losing the trail on Dengo), I could not have been further from the truth. Rather than ending back on square one, they took a daring leap in on their destination, the snowy planet where their families were being kept. But this too came at a hefty price, as The Stalk’s former craft is in shambles from their crash. Marko and Ghüs seem to be fine, though we can’t quite say the same for PRIV, who looks pretty broken from their forced landing. Sweet Ghüs is concerned about the Prince, but Marko gives no shits – he has come to rescue his family.

Marko’s callousness about his partner’s current state can easily be attributed to the reluctance of their (explicitly temporary) alliance and his own priorities. However, it’s equally telling of the development he has been subjected to. He is simply no longer the same individual he was before hopping aboard the dragon’s skull. Desperation and a drug-infused epiphany have done their work to breathe some violence into the character. Despite the possibility of newfound war competence, he is a less stable character than before. Hazel’s narration-in-retrospective highlights the fact that her parents functioned better when together. When separate, they were not nearly as efficient.

Cue the scene change to Alana in the Last Revolution’s craft, precisely after the moment Dengo wasted Quain. Seizing the moment, she attacks Zizz, only for him to easily shake her off. This still plays to her advantage as she managed to procure one of his grenades. This becomes her bargaining chip to get the cargo hatch open. Zizz and Lexis call this a bluff, but Alana is too close to the brink of despair to give any fucks about blowing up the three of them. That’s some food for conviction, courtesy of Saga. Don’t underestimate the gall of one beholding the loathsome prospect of living without their child, and/or people who wear pink slippers. They’ll mess you up.

Dengo joins her with a gun to spare, an apology, and news on the latest events. Hazel is now safe with Klara, who in turn is armed and royally angry, effectively becoming the safest company in the galaxy (in theory). They are both heading back to the family’s rocketship, which should put Alana’s mind at ease. In the meantime, Dengo and she will need to head to the engine room to snatch some fuel. Down there, they run into Sirge with Friendo in tow. Dengo kills him without breaking a sweat (figuratively – it’s unlikely that a robot would sweat as that would likely be a leak). However, the grunt’s dying words reveal that Klara and Hazel haven’t escaped the ship yet. In fact, they happened to run into Zizz and Lexis, the only two remainders of the pseudo-freedom fighters.

Considering Klara’s wound, it’s understandable she wouldn’t be able to pose much resistance against these two. However, Zizz and Lexis’ odds aren’t looking greater either. Rather than fighting Alana and Dengo, they decide to cut their losses and fuck off, with Hazel and Klara. Dengo is sure they won’t be getting far, now that they’ve taken their fuel source. However, Alana doesn’t care about that. The baddies’ numbers have gone down, and the Princeling and Friendo have been rescued. But the current situation is arguably worse than before. Hazel is now taken astray from both her parents. The company of Hazel’s wounded, ferocious grandmother is no consolation for Alana, who is now just a few seconds away from killing Dengo.

She has no shortage of reasons for it. After all, he was one half of the reason to this entire predicament. The other, Yuma, had sacrificed herself to try righting that wrong. And now, the only thing that might assuage Alana is sheer, bloody retribution. Her finger is virtually one tic away from carrying out her judgement upon Dengo. But somebody stops her.

It’s Marko. Now, for the first time in eight issues, they are back together. Outside circumstances and the pressure of their inner demons had led them apart. Now they reunite from inexorable common grounds. The love they share as a couple and a family, and lust for vengeance. Although the latter is a tempting argument for the two of them to kill Dengo right there, Marko convinces her not to. The circumstances have pried a necessity for violence out of them, but it’s not who they are. They are better than this.

Some moments in the narrative of comic books deserve a splash page. Alana and Marko’s reunion embrace is most definitely one of them. The concept is simple enough, and the white surroundings of the snowy landscape lends further focus to this couple, whose reconciliation imbues this ‘no man’s land’ with relevance. As readers, this point marks the beginning of an understanding. Together, they will be a fiercer force to retrieve their daughter than apart. Highlighted by Hazel’s narration, we also realise that a change in dynamic for this couple was inevitable and maybe even necessary. And not only for the sake of keeping things fresh. It really might be a universal principle: couples must mature to stay together.

More wisdom for people of all walks of life, courtesy of Saga. Swell.

The moment is cut short by Prince Robot IV and Ghüs who have also made their way to this point. In spite of the former’s broken head, his mind is clear enough upin meeting Dengo. We need no images on his head-space to know he will demand brutal retribution for his wife’s murder and his son’s abduction. Dengo, however, does have a few words for him, on the core motivations behind his deeds. His son’s death was indeed a consequence of the royalty’s dominance. In a grand-scope way, PRIV and King Robot are responsible for this whole mess. But does the Prince give a damn about all this? It’s a rhetorical question, yes. But let’s humour the possibility that he would.

Then we turn the page and find that… nope. He gives no shits about Dengo’s motives, or the cause he championed. He shoots Dengo dead, plain and simple. PRIV may have amassed a bit of a following as a complex character. But we have to be frank on this. He really is no better than this. However, his reaction at holding his son in his arms is truly heartwarming, considering the character’s super willingness to kill. True to his own ways, he switches between murder and love modes just like that. But no bloodshed really takes away from him uttering three golden words. “My baby boy.”

Elsewhere, The Will finally wakes up from his vegetative state, courtesy of the miraculous elixir Team Gwen has gone to great lengths to make. It has been a rough odyssey for Gwendolyn, Sophie, and Lying Cat, as well as The Brand and her Sweet Boy. But it has paid off. However, the joy of the moment quickly passes when The Will learns of his sister’s death. The first stage of his grieving is a baleful one as he lashes at his friends, yelling to be left alone. Even his long time companion, Lying Cat, sadly looks back at him. The pain of loss can change anybody; sometimes with harrowing results. It’s more than likely that The Will’s return as an active character will cast some waves.

Perhaps we’ll see his return as a dangerous antagonist. But one thing is for sure; there is now a necessity for things to mend on the side of Gwen, Sophie, Lying Cat and The Will. After all, who wants Lying Cat to stay sad?

It has been a whiplash of emotions all over with this issue, which is a very Saga thing to do. This issue ends in an undisclosed location. Enter a mantis-looking teacher lady called Noreen. So we’ll accompany Hazel on her preschool years. It’s an important stage in any child’s life, but in this peculiar and ruthless galaxy, it will be far from boring. Although there were some strange, sorrowful losses and some agons reached their conclusion, this issue feels as much of a beginning as an end. And now that Alana and Marko are back together, it’s just a matter of taking a little momentum to embark on the next odyssey: the search for their daughter.

Stay tuned, my lovelies.

Saga Issue #30 Credits

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan

Artist: Fiona Staples

All images are courtesy of Image Comics


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