Friday, May 24, 2024

The Saga-scious duo shines bright in Saga

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Oh yes, that’s a pun alright. Fear not, it’s not even the best I can do (best meaning worse, of course). However, I can think of no better title to describe the events on this week’s issue. The narrative in Saga is usually distributed neatly amongst several characters in different settings and conflicts. That’s not the case this time. In a similar way as previous issue, the story is more focused on one place, one set of characters and one tone. While we had a thought-provoking journey of self-discovery and self-assertion through Hazel last time, this issue takes a different approach. It’s all action, from beginning to end, with a distinct and succinct blockbuster-ish flavour.

It’s a most fitting choice, considering the Alana and Marko’s agon: rescuing their daughter. Every action to this end must have had plenty of thought and planning beforehand. Thus, the time has come to simply act decisively. The mechanic is considerably simple for Saga, but not any less engaging for it.

Issue #31
“No, they’re fetishistic narcissists.”

Let’s start with a question. Has Saga ever let us down when it comes to opening splash pages to leave a lasting impression? This is rhetorical; the answer is no, it never has and it probably never will. This issue is no exception as Alana and Marko staging a robbery contains the proper amount of obscene language and the proper amount of bonkers teamwork. This roguish, guileful measure has one purpose: getting their ride back from the spaceship impound, which is probably every bit as annoying as it is in some funny little rock called Earth. And same as how it would fail on Earth, their little scheme fails to convince the guard by the fact accountants, like Alana pretends to be, never work late. The Devil’s in the details, isn’t it?

Nonetheless, Marko opts to knock the guard out with the last of his dad’s sleeping powder stuff. This is virtually a confirmation that he’s back on his usual pacifist approach. This may be for the best, seeing as how Alana and Marko are more effective and stable when working together. Hazel’s nigh-omniscient confirms the extent of their mutual purpose as she acknowledges that her parents had nothing in mind but retrieving their daughter since their reunion. Although they’re back together, they won’t indulge in anything until they had Hazel back. So now, more than ever, Alana and Marko are a force to be reckoned with. And it’s just as well, as they’re infiltrating Variegate—the financial hub to the Coalition’s prison system.

The most effective way to unearth a couple of names (Hazel and Klara) from the system is really just getting your hands dirty and take them yourself. This probably also applies in real life, but I’ll keep my furious views on bureaucracy to myself.

Things go amazingly until they come upon the second obstacle on their path, an unbreachable door. This halt in tempo yields some room for a little talk between the two of them. It’s apparent that Marko’s renewed approach derives from guilt at his role in their schism several issues ago. Of course, throwing a bag of groceries at your spouse in an outburst isn’t that great an offence. Though Alana sees this as what it was, Marko will go to every measure to ensure nothing of the sort happens again. While commendable, we’ll have to hope this won’t be hindering, or annoying. Marko turns his wife’s gun into a skeleton key and now they’re free to continue their talk on Hazel’s education while searching. That’s practical thinking right there.

Soon enough, Alana finds the desired information. Hazel, Klara and a third female (Lexis) were taken to a detainment centre… on Landfall. On its own, this spells trouble for Hazel’s parents, but they have a more immediate concern as their infiltration comes to a third obstacle. Flamingthrower constables—quite a neat design from Fiona Staples, as usual. An arrest for breaking and entering, and destruction of property (the constables’ doing) sounds like a long term hurdle, but Alana has a treacherous card up her sleeve. With her acting skills, their rocketship’s approach, and the constables’ dipshittery, she successfully manages to masquerade as a suicide bomber. So, away the three flaming stooges go.

However, she wasn’t lying when selling their rocketship as an inbound missile. Thus, their getaway is also something of an obstacle in itself. Risky move; they’ll have to actually intercept the vehicle as it passes the building. We’ve seen this countless times in blockbusters and there’s a reason it gets a rise out of the audience every time. It just doesn’t look possible. However, Alana’s look at her husband dispels all doubts on the matter. And here is yet again another reason why Fiona Staples is Fiona Staples. She absolutely nails expressions. She can do things with a dozen lines, Rob Liefeld cannot hope to do with a hundred. Alana’s face looks daring, loving, inviting and confident all at once. It’s the face you want to see when about to do the riskiest thing ever.

So, they made it. They’re safe and on their way to retrieve Hazel, Klara and Izabel. From the heat of the moment, they break their unspoken vow of no-intimacy as they kiss for the first time since reuniting. It’s cliché as hell, but it works.

After the logical followup to that kiss, Hazel narrates that her parents were secretly convinced their daughter was dead until they found the scroll saying otherwise. This, in turn, imbues their lovemaking with a tint of despair. This action-packed operation was actually their last resort to prove their fear false. Now, after their long due frothy reunion, it’s time to face another inconvenient truth. They won’t be able to successfully undertake this mission without help from a third party. Someone they’re reluctant to work with.

Prince Robot IV. Well, he doesn’t consider himself Prince anything more, rather something of a Knight Errant. Ghüs brings him the news of their approach. And he couldn’t have less enthusiasm about the fact. However, before he and his Squire son can put some distance between a second reluctant alliance and then, his son catches sight of a “shooting star” while hunting geese, as you do. It seems fate has caught up with the Knight Errant and his Squire lad before they could even try to run away. Just like a frisky cat biting his puss sibling’s nape (Pardon the vulgar analogy, but at the time of writing, my cats are being assholes to each other). However, among other things, Saga has taught us to be on our toes, constantly.

There is always the chance that a visitor may not be who we expect.

Saga Issue #31 Credits

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan

Artist: Fiona Staples

All images are courtesy of Image Comics

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