As hinted by this issue’s cover, we will soon reach our first known destination among the stars. Although life cannot sprout in the void, the image of sylvan green leaves against the black of outer space is encouraging enough. On the other hand, one could wonder just how long a tiny life could survive in a cold, impersonal universe. It’s a metaphor, and we all love metaphors, especially if they can work twofold. Nonetheless, something as virginal and unspoiled as a newborn is about to travel into the far reaches of the galaxy. What grand and magnificent worlds and peoples will we meet through Hazel, Alana and Marko? What perilous trials will they face upon leaving Cleave?
Saga Issue #6
“Say goodbye, sweet girl”
Alana and Marko have ditched the Landfallian vessel they commandeered last issue. The former leads the way with the map while the latter does the baby-carrying (and perhaps the inevitable diaper-changing?). As they walk through a valley, Hazel’s narration brings the reader into the scene’s mood. At this point, we are accustomed to older Hazel’s way of speaking: jaded in tone and ambiguous in description. She reflects on the inevitability of birth and beginnings, regardless of how pleasant or nurturing these might or might not be. Even so, the idea that the negligence and abandonment Hazel mentions might refer to her own parents begins to sour the atmosphere for the reader.
It’s only fitting that when she talks about the equal inevitability of death, Alana and Marko arrive at their destination, only to find it a scorched wasteland. As a bright red contrast to their gloom, Izabel wakes up from Hazel’s wee baby body. Despondent, they seem to be on the brink of despair and defeat, but the ghost-girl knows better. The forest has been burned for the most part, yet the spectres of the land had taken some precautions to preserve what precious little survived the tide of war. Izabel herself, a master of misdirection, hid one sapling whose shadow leaves Alana and Marko gaping when its revealed. The way it shines under Cleave’s moons strikes a hopeful note.
Meanwhile, Prince Robot IV analyzes the aftermath of his freakout last issue. For what it’s worth, his Landfallian companion, McHenry, is willing to claim self-defense, as buddies and enablers do. The Stalk lies dead on the ground, but her fancy communicator thingy is still operating, with The Will on the other side. The living Freelancer is oblivious to the fact that his old flame is no more, but not for long. The monarch talks to The Will, under the assumption that he had hired The Stalk. He claims that the Freelancer had just been killed in action. The Will does not take this very well. Prince Robot IV is at least frank enough to inform him that he’ll take her ship. In response, The Will delivers one of those threats that only he can. Prince Robot IV hangs up, slightly disturbed, as you do. On the other side, The Will mourns his peer and former lover while Lying Cat looks on, concerned.
Back to our heroes, we get a small taste of irony. Although Alana had greater faith in the existence of a Rocketship Forest proper, she’s now doubtful about boarding a spaceship made of wood. Marko, who didn’t believe at first, now vouches for it. These two really do behave like an old married couple (according to the trope, that is). Nonetheless, before they can hop on, Izabel tells them the rocketship requires a sacrifice. Marko offers his sword, but Alana protests; not only is it deadly in his hands, it’s also a family heirloom. It’s sweet that she cares. He shatters it over his knee for his family, which is also sweet. In response, the ship’s gate opens up, and that is even sweeter.
Inside the ship, Marko and Izabel stare in awe at everything around them. It is, after all, a magical ship made of wood, or more accurately, a ship that literally grew on a tree. For a moment, though, it appears that’s too early to celebrate, as tremors start shaking the whole thing. Izabel tells them it’s not an earthquake, but ignition. It turns out that you don’t actually get to control this kind of ship, you just ride it. In a way, this is even more phenomenal because it’s more than magic at work, it’s a sentient ship, maybe even with some degree of agency. It’s fantasy at its finest, and it takes off gorgeously. Alana freaks out a bit because she doesn’t know where this ship will take them.
Izabel again serves as teacher, telling them that the ship will go wherever it wants. Still, “it may be open to suggestions,” a phrase with shades of Terry Pratchett. At this point, the series takes on a very peculiar color of fantasy, that of awe. Alana, Marko and Izabel are all savvy in certain idiosyncrasies to this galaxy, but now they’re faced with the possibility of endless new destinations. And the reader, by extension, gets twice that taste, being basic-ass human beings looking into this universe. As a first new destination, Alana suggests Quietus, an old lighthouse planet. She has a very clear purpose to that: she wants their daughter to be the smartest person in the universe. As you do.
Really, as we all should want for our kids.
Back to Prince Robot IV. The asshole has located The Stalk’s cool ship. Before he climbs aboard, he gets a call from Special Agent Gale. He’s calling about the dead Freelancer, which is bad news in the agent’s line of work. Prince Robot IV lets him in on The Stalk’s affairs hunting Alana, Marko and their baby. Gale is shocked to find that the Wreath High Command knows about the baby. This may be a factor to consider in the long run. The unstable monarch tells him the fugitives are not to be underestimated. As he pulls Alana’s favorite novel from his bag, he remarks that it’s the mother who really frightens him.
Special Agent Gale speaks baleful and angrily about the Prince’s duty. Yet, the screen-faced one doesn’t seem all that bothered. He expected the fugitives to have already left the planet. The next step would be to find their next destination. As the Prince goes through the novel’s pages, he comes upon the author’s information: D. Oswald Heist, a Louper-nominated author of over forty novels. He’s a bearded cyclops, because of course we’d have one in Saga. He also resides on Quietus. The reflection of the word is magnified on his face as the revelations dawns on him.
Back to our beloved family amidst the stars, Hazel narrates that she grew up in that ship and thoroughly enjoyed it while it lasted. However, in the present moment, Marko holds his daughter to the window so she can “say her farewells” to her home planet. Alana comes out with a towel around her, praising the shower on the ship. Before we can start wishing we lived in one of these, a blue light fills the inside. Izabel acknowledges this as reverse photo-synthesis, communication between rocketships. The ship has detected magic incoming. Aware of the fact that these ships are untraceable, Marko quickly works out what happened.
Marko breaking his sword has summoned someone he calls ‘her’. Alana is quite willing to give the rings back if it’s Gwendolyn coming with a vengeance, but before they can make sense of it, two “Wreathpeople” in armor appear inside of the ship in a blaze. One of them blasts Izabel, splattering her. Alana shoots the magic attacker, while the other charges ahead with an axe. Before they make a mess, Marko uses the best (real life) weapon of all: words. He stops the attackers pretty quick and with no further violence.
They’re Marko’s parents. The possibilities of awkward moments from this point onward are wide and diverse. It’s going to be delightful.
Images Courtesy of Image Comics
Saga Issue #6 Credits
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples