Saturday, June 22, 2024

Saga aligns the pieces on the board

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“The beauty is in its simplicity.” I’ve heard this phrase more times than I can count, and most of the time, it’s quite true. A story can be a formula to be endlessly emulated. Thus, we got Saga, which is basically a reprisal of one such formula. It’s all pretty straightforward: Us Against the World, or the galaxy in this case. The story introduced the main players early on, and it easily caught our attention. Nonetheless, things have to get a bit more complex if we want the story to outlast a mere persecution by prejudice. So, a few characters joined the dynamic to spice things up a bit. Thus, we arrive at the question: What makes Hebdomadal’s Upsher and Doff so deserving of the feature on this issue’s cover?

They’re simply an axis of their own. While some run for survival and thriving, others pursue to kill. These two aim to encompass an understanding of it all. Although their intentions are mostly pragmatic, they are the third party we need. Their feature doesn’t necessarily mean the issue is about them, rather it may outline the issue’s theme. Looking from the outside like a journalist with allegiance to the truth, there is more to life than allies and foes. It is also an amalgam of dreams for the future and personal concerns. There are also players aligned on neither side but their own.

Issue #16
“I’d say the hook’s been set.”

Much as on past issues, we open with the journos harassing/interviewing a person of interest. This time, it’s Special Agent Gale, the horrible asshole who got Prince Robot IV on the chase. It’s universally considered something of a dick move to interrupt somebody while they exercise. However, in this case, I believe it more than justified. With his usual low-key sass, he unveils something Gale would keep under wraps: Alana was never kidnapped by the enemy, rather she married him. In a desperate attempt to keep the farce, Gale claims Alana to actually be a spy.

Since the journos evidently don’t buy, he resorts to a low retort by alluding to their planet’s homophobic ways. Yet, it’s not enough to discredit an openly gay journalist, is it? An asshole must always kick dirt in your eyes or put a knife on your back.

Upsher and Doff are perilously close to the truth. Gale can’t have that, so he calls for a Freelancer, as you do. He is willing to pay enough to forego journalists’ immunity as per the company’s guidelines. Their best man is not available, so Gale gets a “close second”. The Brand.

Meanwhile on Quietus, it’s a cozy little evening at D. Oswald Heist’s lighthouse. There is a lot of reading involved, and Hazel acknowledges that such a scene is really how a childhood should be. I’m inclined to agree, but I won’t digress further. Heist and guests discuss children’s books. Even last issue we got a glimpse of Heist’s fascination with them, so we arrive at the necessary question. Why hasn’t he written one? The reason is that he’s unwilling because of the cooperative nature of their make. This is not because of the individualist caricature of a writer. He just fears artists, with whom he’d need to work to make a kids’ book. Such is life.

His second wife, Yuma, is responsible for this fear. Last he knew she was an artist working for the Open Circuit. Judging by the characters’ speech, this is Saga‘s equivalent of television. Since the subject is fresh, they decide to watch some Circuit, because life is life, and you must enjoy it every now and then. At every moment that passes on the lighthouse, we get a stronger sense of family. It’s a shame that not every nucleus feels that way. NitroCasino:

On some other green and deceptively lovely planet, Gwendolyn and Lying Cat are looking for Sophie. This is happening in the woods, because the woods are often eventful. Gwen sees a vision of a naked unicorny woman called Velour. She identifies this visage as the woman who took her virginity, and quickly figures that she’s an hallucination. She promptly forces herself to vomit in order to kill the effect of the meat she had eaten. I don’t overly advocate vomiting in the sheer sight of an ex, but that’s just me. In either case, she dreads thinking what horrible things The Will must be seeing. If only she knew… and if only she knew what Sophie had seen, and done.

Back to Quietus, we see what Open Circuit actually is. It’s basically something like a VR-thingy that allows to witness theatre featuring wing-and-hornless actors. This sounds rather neat. It’s not good theatre, though. It’s cheap melodrama with audience participation, just like a screening of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. Therefore, even if it’s not good material, it’s still fun. It turns out that Alana always wanted to join a Circuit troupe. Through Alana and Marko’s dialogue, we learn that the Circuit runs on small theatre companies. All of a sudden, our story becomes imbued with a slight historical Elizabethan flavour. There’s way more to war to this galaxy, there is also art and entertainment. At the end, Marko convinces Alana to pursue her dream.

Back on greeny, mindfucky planet, Gwendolyn and Lying Cat arrive back at camp. They make it just in time to prevent Sophie—under the effect of hallucinations—from killing The Will. Lying Cat pounces to defend her master and Gwen manages to tie frantic Sophie down. The moment is pretty intense, and even when things do calm down, there is an ominous urgency ahead.

The Will requires medical attention, more than Gwen can pull off with her magic. The necessity to get to Quietus becomes dire since the Freelancer won’t make it to a proper emergency room. She says that Marko does know enough combat surgery to save The Will’s life. This is a stronger reason to land on Quietus than her personal vendetta. Lying Cat doesn’t deign to call bullshit on this one.

Back on Quietus, some sexual tension unfolds between Heist and Klara. It’s rather sweet in spite of the circumstances of previous issues. In a way, it serves as a continuation of last issue’s theme. Enjoy yourself and live the moment every so often. Although this is something to keep to heart, we can’t stay idle for long, can we? It’s now that Heist catches sight of a stranger approaching the lighthouse. It’s time to hide and play the quiet part, for danger looms on the shores. Prince Robot IV has arrived. We know what’s going to happen by now. But we also get to listen in on a call he makes to his wife, heavy with child, beforehand.

Ruthless as he is, PRIV is not some flat villain with nothing to live for but to be a dick. Well, he is a dick, but he has those he cares for always on his mind. It only makes sense to think of those you hold dear when walking into uncertainty. The call ends via interference before he can say what dwells at the bottom of his shiny being. Now, it’s all business, violent interrogation-business. Hazel remarks that this is the moment when things get action-packed. The final page with Gwendolyn and Lying Cat observing the Prince approaching the lighthouse is the ultimate confirmation of it.

The pieces are in their respective places, lying in wait for their play.

Saga Issue #16 Credits

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan

Artist: Fiona Staples

Images courtesy of Image Comics

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