Thursday, June 20, 2024

Saga and the art of desperation

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Desperation can be a magnificent incentive to act out of one’s comfort zone, and it’s also a vehicle to diversity in means. Some say that diversity is the spice of life, and Image has proven to excel in this territory on recent years. So when you compound deez D’s, what you got in your hands is sheer opportunity to explore characters and situations in ways you’d think unlikely. And this is because you know both D’s can’t comfortably fit in one character without provoking tension of the not-necessarily-sexual variety.

Saga has explored this theme before through Gwendolyn and The Will. Despite the early tensions, this alliance worked relatively well. However, Marko and Prince Robot IV’s team-up shows hardly any of that willingness.

Take away the common ground of pursuing the same guy, and these two will eat each other. Again, in a not-necessarily-sexual-or-self-preservation-oriented manner. It’s the magic of desperation and diversity. A beautiful thing indeed.

Issue #26
“… Bugger”

Essentially, Marko is a swell guy and something of a pacifist. He probably would even be willing to pay taxes if he weren’t a war criminal in the current times. But for all the time we’ve known him, his situation as a fugitive demands some roguishness for the sake of survival. This implies a constant conflict for the character, his actions against his values. During a stop at a convenience store for supplies, Marko witnesses a robbery.

The smart thing for a wanted man would be to just let it happen and take off. Yet Marko still attempts to stop the crook, a fellow Wreathborn, and war veteran. At first, he uses words to try and reason with him. But when attacked, he still has a mind to defend himself. However, here is when things get sketchy.

One thing is to incapacitate a criminal. Another is to downright beat him to death. Marko’s expression as he pummels the burglar shows pure, unabashed violence. It takes lil’ Ghüs coming out of the restroom for him to stop. PRIV urges Marko to finish the job for practicality’s sake, but Marko insists there will be no killings. Yuma urges all to return to the ship while she erases the surveillance footage and takes something from the unconscious burglar. Although Marko is a more relatable character, PRIV may not be in the wrong when he says their mission will inevitably require some dirty work. The former may deny it, but his actions are starting to null the weight of his values. It may be that the situation of pursuing the one who took his family is bringing out a bloodier side of him.

Meanwhile, on the snowy planet where Dengo has come to roost, The Last Revolution is scouting the surroundings. Whereas little Hazel is excited about these new people, Alana and Klara see things quite differently. In fact, they acknowledge this pack as terrorists, responsible for horrendous acts against the civil populace of Landfall and Wreath. One would shudder to think of what they intend to do with both Hazel and the Princeling.

Thus, Alana puts her plan in motion, to use her acting skills to get Dengo’s trust. She insists The Last Revolution are using him and are not to be trusted. While he appreciates the empathy as a fellow parent, he’s not willing to back out of his role.

From one distressing situation to another, we return to Demimonde, where we last saw Gwen and company in their quest for Dragon Semen. Urine-drenched and suitably disgusted, Gwendolyn and The Brand do most of the struggle while the pets guard Sophie. In their current situation, their weapons are ineffective to fend off the dragons.

Nonetheless, little Sophie uses her bookworm smarts to come up with an idea. She urges Gwendolyn to use her translation pendant so they may communicate with the dragons. Although Gwen is initially skeptical about this, she still gives it a try, and what do you know: it works. Sophie does the talking here, and succeeds in saving the grownups and getting information of where to find a male dragon to ‘milk’.

Hill Dontgo on Mount Lazuli will be their next destination. While Big Sophie congratulates Little Sophie, cross-hairs focus on the latter. Crosshairs are always bad news. Fortunately, the sniper only uses his rifle to observe this lovely pack from afar. And who is this sharpshooter fellow? A male on the same species as The Stalk. It would turn out an unfortunate symmetry if he was related to the late weird-sexy spider woman, much as The Brand is to The Will. All we know for now is that their movements are being followed.

Back aboard The Stalk’s ship, which now basically belongs to PRIV, Marko reflects on the event at the store. Yuma approaches to talk about it, while high on the Fadeaway the burglar had on him. Maarko, already affected by the way Alana and he split, is now furious because of this. Marko doesn’t understand why a war veteran turned criminal would use the drug.

In response, Yuma remarks that Marko is a rare one of the war veterans who doesn’t use Fadeaway. He learns now that she never actually tried to push the drug on Alana; it was she who approached it. With anguish and shame in his face, Marko realises that he never knew his wife’s troubles. Although she had no place lecturing Izabel on death by war, Alana probably still suffered from PTSD, perhaps exacerbated by life as a fugitive.

Meanwhile, The Last Revolution finally introduce themselves to Dengo and his captives. Quain, the snake-like guy appears to be the diplomat in the group. Alana and Klara speak menacingly, and in response, Quain does some voodoo mind-shit to render them unconscious. While one of his companions examines Hazel, determining the child a legitimate crossbreed of two species, Julep from the planet Jetsam identifies the baby Dengo carries as the Princeling. Therefore, they realise that Dengo is the individual who assassinated the Princess from the Robot Kingdom. The Last Revolution accept him into their fold with open arms because of this. However, Dengo exhibits some reluctance, as if weighing Alana’s words, from parent to parent.

This issue ends on something of an odd note. Prince Robot IV wakes from a half-wet dream, half nightmare. For him, affection and desire for his late wife come both in the same package. Yet the loss of her is also yoked with that love. It’s Eros and Thanatos joined forcibly in a union that would make a psychoanalyst froth at the mouth. PRIV is suitably disturbed by the dream and walks out of the sleeping chambers unto a hallway in the ship, where he finds Marko. A man who struggles with repressing his inner violence and the oath of pacifism he’s taken now lays at his feet, apparently OD’d on Fadeaway. Red eyes and foam at the mouth are never a good sign. This looks neither well for the cohesion of this already shaky alliance, or for the success of their ultimate goal.

Desperation may be a vehicle to making the unlikeliest of things possible. But there is always a price to pay, even for sour boons.

Saga Issue #26 Credits
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
All images are courtesy of Image Comics




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