Sunday, June 23, 2024

Saga Makes a Swerve to Settle Unresolved Affairs

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On the latest Saga issues, we’ve been observing developments surrounding our beloved family of fugitives. We’ve seen them misplace their gutty babysitter, but we’ve also seen them expand their number, now including Marko’s parents. However, in spite of Hazel’s foreboding narration about a rift bound to occur within her family, this story encompasses more than that. Though the crux of the conflict does gravitate around Hazel, Alana, and Marko, their pursuers have lives of their own. They have hopes, dreams… and torments.

Their conflicts are no less relevant, even if they’re somewhat distant from the main arc. On this occasion, we’ll tackle one of these conflicts, in true wilful fashion.

Saga Issue #8
“Ooh, you Freelancers are so scary.”

Well, well, Mama Sun, aren’t you a sight for sore, reasonably healthy eyes? The direction in which she points her gun, and the presence of her ornate cod-piece-wearing henchmen can only mean one thing: The Will has decided to omit formalities. Ever the businesswoman, she won’t allow for the Freelancer to ‘unlawfully’ take her ‘merchandise’. She’s also still irritatingly confident The Will won’t be able to get the Slave Girl on his own. Therein lies the catch, and a floodgate opening for a series of blockbuster-ish one liners that effectively set the tone for this issue. The Freelancer hasn’t come alone, and we don’t mean he has just brought Lying Cat as his backup.

Well, well, The Stalk, aren’t YOU a sight for sore, variably numbered eyes? There’s something rather anticlimactic about seeing a baddie with a hefty reputation get so easily taken out so early in the story. It’s a convention we’ve seen applied for varying purposes, whether to build another character as an even greater threat, or sheer humour. Nonetheless, it’s refreshing to see this subverted to some degree, as a double swerve; plus scars tend to look cool. Two dead henchmen and one decapitated sex work entrepreneur later, and The Will and The Stalk are back together. It’s a peculiar, but sweet moment, and considerably cathartic. It’s nemesis, pure and simple, and very clean in its bloodshed… almost too clean.

Of course, it turns out to have been all just dream.

Hasn’t this been done to exhaustion already? Isn’t the whole ‘just a dream’ gig old as fuck? Yes, yes it is, but as with most conventions, tropes, etc, its effectiveness will always vary on execution. The Will is broken, as his competence has proven insufficient to accomplish something he aimed for on a personal level. The Stalk is dead, and there were no amends to heal that relation. All he has left is a partner that can’t lie to him convincingly, even if just to comfort him. What better way to briefly escape this loathsome chain of events than by dreaming of a scenario where things occurred diametrically different?

Lying Cat wakes the Freelancer, alerting him to Gwendolyn’s presence. She has come to get an answer from him on why he’s been unable to complete his assignment. He responds that he has moved on to more personal matters, though Gwendolyn already knows of his plans to avenge The Stalk by killing Prince Robot IV. That’s the long-term objective anyway; currently he doesn’t have much of a lead on where to start tackling this goal, as you do. She relays onto him that the robot monarch had also been tasked with hunting down the fugitives, so his best shot to avenge his ‘Lost Lenore’ is to do the job he was hired for. The Will questions Gwendolyn on her interest, and she delivers some jingoistic bollocks that neither he nor Lying Cat buys in the slightest.

We know better, don’t we? Anyway, The Will turns the tables and demands a hefty advance if he’s to pursue this job. In response, he earns a loud scoff from the Wreath High Command operative. He justifies his demand by claiming to need the money for practical purposes, such as weaponry, diverse deadly hardware and shit. But once more, Lying Cat calls him out on his bullshit. Actually, he does need the money. Unlike the events of his dream, he’ll truly need adhering to procedure in order to save the Slave Girl. Gwendolyn has a better idea than just yielding the cash. She’ll rescue the girl herself, and in return, The Will is to do his job. All she needs is an open line. This will involve quite a bit of lying, so the cat will have to stay outside ala Flintstones.

In Sextillion, Mama Sun receives a call from one ‘Detective Donn from Wreath Homeland Police’, on a missing person’s case. Predictably evasive, the entrepreneur from Hell dodges all implied accusations to protect her business. ‘Detective Donn’ says that a certain Wreathborn girl had her horns removed in Phang prior to acquisition by Mama Sun’s people. The girl’s owner changes her tune when considering the PR disaster that would mean for her Landfallian clientele to find out that they had intercourse with a ‘moony’. She says the girl’s security elixir would be neutralised at once. But rather than allowing the police to land on Sextillion, she would have her people deliver the girl at a rendezvous point. Visibly pleased for once, The Will flies his ship over to Indica, accompanied by Gwendolyn.

Upon landing, we learn that this scheme also appeared smoother than it would actually be. Mama Sun figured The Will would be behind this, so she took precautions. As with any mobster flick worth watching (all of them), the girl is held at gun point by a pack of thugs with the space-equivalent of Tommy Guns. They will only let the girl go if they receive the revised, and considerably increased, payment of thirty million. The only logical haggling price in this instance is to allow the thugs to leave if they let the girl walk. That’s just how the universe works, with a tint of Western and Mob every now and then. His words fail to persuade the thugs, so all The Will can do is live the dream, as best he can. He’ll never have his love back, but he can still save the little girl.

It’s time to brutally show why he got the job of hunting down Alana and Marko. With one thrust of his extendable lance, he skewers one of the thugs and tears him up the middle. Seizing on the offensive, Lying Cat does what cats do best, apart from spraying, purring and messing up your game. She lunges forward and eats the face out of a second thug. The Will throws his lance to Gwendolyn, telling her to protect the girl while he runs towards the final thug, the large one. However, this proves foolish, as the big guy quickly has The Will in a chokehold. Instead of aiding the Freelancer with his weapon, Gwendolyn uses something ‘her ex taught her’. She blasts red lightning through the thug’s stomach, incapacitating him.

Gwendolyn appears initially shocked, as she had never killed anyone before. In truth, she hadn’t killed the baddie with her blast. Nonetheless, The Will hands her one of the guns and tells her to finish what she started. She look to be more than willing to comply. So ends Mama Sun’s ownership of the little girl from Phang. It’s a small triumph in the current scheme of things, but no victory is small against child labour in the sex trade.

Back in the Freelancer’s ship, the little girl sleeps cuddled next to Lying Cat, because cats are also the best at cuddling. Meanwhile, Gwendolyn and The Will discuss on where to take the girl now that she’s free. However, no place seems actually safe for her now; especially after the trauma she endured. Before they agree on anything, the little girl wakes up and approaches them. She tells Gwendolyn that her necklace is ‘sad’ and that it misses its friends. It appears that this kid has some abilities of her own. Maybe she can intuitively feel the magic of the people from Wreath and their artifacts.

At this point, it’s still a rough notion, but because of it, we learn something valuable. Marko and Gwendolyn’s rings were part of a set, a magical set capable of translating languages and maybe some other stuff that may come in handy at some point. The Will asks the girl if she knows where to find the necklace’s friends. She points to some unknown direction, whichever place the fugitives have headed to.

Violence begets violence, deaths multiply and the corruption of war spreads savagely. Although The Will and Gwendolyn have saved the little girl from Phang, she may well have landed on a new agon and become part of The Will’s mission. As a result, we get a peculiar trio. Desperate necessity, vengeance, and spite have created a second family, a foil to our heroes.

What will happen when this bunch catch up to Hazel, Alana, and Marko? Only time will tell.




Saga Issue #9 Credits

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan

Artist: Fiona Staples

All images are courtesy of Image Comics

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