Friday, May 24, 2024

Saga Visits an Infamous Little World

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I’ve probably already said this, and if I did, it’s only because it proves true time and time again. Simplicity is a vehicle to beauty. The core premise in Saga began as ‘us against the world’, or galaxy rather. The star-crossed lovers fought back against the system by consummating their love and living to tell. And then, they elope with the product of their union, possibly to the tune and feel of t.A.T.u.’s “Not Gonna Get Us”. It’s romantic and engaging, but you can’t make a narrative last this long on basis of that alone. Enter diversity to branch out into new conflicts and perils to keep the emotion fresh.

After miles of tension and an audacious plan, the crew errant is on the run once more. Some have chosen to stay behind, while others have joined the flight. The key member, Hazel, is back with her parents. While this is all sorts of right, we can’t afford to feel safe. Without getting ahead of myself, I can say right now that the current configuration of the misfit crew is flying into the bleakest arc so far. We’re now venturing into a peculiar change in the narrative.

Issue #37
“I mean, it’s not like life could get any worse…”

Following in the events from past issues, the image of peaceful, snoring Hazel with Ponk Ponk in hand is a bit of a respite. It’s golden to see the child whose existence has turned the galaxy on its head being precisely that: a child. But it will be short-lived.

As we learned from last issue’s ending, there is a baby sibling on the horizon for Hazel, which is where the first inkling of new conflict stems from. Early on, there are differing points of view on the new baby from both Alana and Marko, elucidating certain features on both characters. We see the contrast between their respective temperaments. Alana, certain of the signs her body is giving her, would be forthcoming to Hazel about her pregnancy. But Marko would virtually handle the situation with pliers, opting for a more careful approach.

We’ve yet to see if this will originate a new schism in the couple. One thing is for sure, though. It’s sure a hasty turn of events considering Hazel’s recent re-integration into her family nucleus proper.

Meanwhile, let’s pay the other crew members a visit aboard the living rocket ship. First, we’ll go with Sir Robot, a character with as much gravitas as vulgarity. Although he has been more than a credible threat in the past, the brusque, almost voyeuristic approach to his most defining moments imbue his potential for menace with ridicule. The flavour of irony dulls his villainy, but it doesn’t make him any less unpleasant or downright weird. The reader ‘walking in’ on him masturbating doesn’t necessarily play into this dynamic by itself. But when his mental images, which show up on his ‘face’, reveal Alana as a source of arousal, the sense of strangeness kicks us blank in the face. If we were to expect some kind of Freudian slip from anybody, it would be him for sure.

As for the newest member, Petrichor spends her time weaving clothes for the new baby while chatting with Hazel. The polar change of scenery between imprisonment and a possibility for freedom is no small deal. Furthermore, she still struggles to reconcile the notion of a willing union between two enemy species. Such binary thought comes at the price of irony, considering Petricho  has had to challenge another kind of binarism just as plagued by taboo.

Perhaps Petrichor thinks of herself as a soldier-at-war, first and foremost. Yet, as Izabel is quick to remark, if there is a place in the galaxy where traditionally imposed roles mean nothing, it would be this ship. As a side note, Izabel is the first to address Petrichor as a trans character, not just intersex. Always trust a ghostie to be frank.

Izabel and Petrichor are about to bond over a band, as you do, when the orange lights come on. A colour of warning. It’s rather amusing to see how excited is Hazel about the hazard (Mayhaps she looks forward to seeing mum and dad do their big-damn-heroes-thing?). However, it’s not nearly as big of a deal. In fact, it’s the kind of problem that demands a dull and uneventful solution: mechanical issues solved with a pit stop. So, if they want to reach the Serpentine Belt to get Squire Robot, they need to refuel. The closest fuel stop? Phang, the funny little rock Lil’ Sophie hails from.

Regardless of the antagonism between Landfall and Wreath, this world has always known war. Eventually, the two big players did annex Phang into their war table, with a twist. Though both sides wouldn’t acknowledge it, their interest in Phang’s soil as a rich fuel source guided their zeal on the comet. Any resemblance to a similar scenario in planet Earth is most likely intended, and definitely justified. Naturally, the natives suffered the worst for it. With its infrastructured damaged as it was, Phang’s real export rose shamefully: refugees, just like Sophie. And speaking of…

Sophie is alive and well in Wreath. So is Lying Cat, and Gwendolyn. That’s a lovely sight for sore eyes, but there is a shadow casting its darkness over the young one. She has a mission of her own: become a Freelancer, and exact revenge upon Marko. whom she sees as the reason Gwendolyn’s career is halted, because of her past relationship with him.

However, Gwen doesn’t encourage this ambition. She is long over Marko and the Freelancer life is just not something she’d like for Lil’ Sophie, who is barely ten years old. Interestingly, Sophie appears to have picked up some of Gwen’s bias against Marko during the pursuit on Quietus, deeming him an ‘abusive asshole’. If we hadn’t realised it by now, this also shows how much of a child Sophie still is, despite herself.

Anyway, there’s a different reason she wanted a word with Sophie. She wants to know about Sophie’s family, and if there’s any relative left in Phang. Things are about to get hairy in there.

And indeed, Hazel, her parents and company are soon to land in the midst of that bloody mess. Alana and Marko are ready to scout the dreary surface, but Petrichor joins them to protect Hazel’s reattained family. The ravaged cityscape speaks forebodingly about numerous threats awaiting. But to everybody’s surprise, all they encounter is rodent-y guy called Kurti. Not only does he look fairly harmless; he’s actually relieved to see Alana, Marko and Petrichor, mistaking them for missionaries. Alana offers the hospitality of the ship to feed this hungry little guy. Unfortunately, he’s not the only one in need. In face of disaster, it’s never few who suffer the brunt of war. Truly, he has a large family.

Feeding this many mouths looks like a challenge to come. The first of many, really.

Stay tuned to see our favourite space family settling into this cozy little world, which is about to go aflame.

Saga Issue #37 Credits

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan

Artist: Fiona Staples

All images are courtesy of Image Comics

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