Saga #9 Review
By: Rob Gruszecki
The inhabitants of Landfall and its orbiting moon Wreath have been at odds with each other as long as the rest of the galaxy can even remember. The ancient mystics residing on Wreath as ‘Moonies’ battle with the winged soldiers who call Landfall their home and due to the fragile nature of the destruction of one resulting in sending the other out of orbit, the entire war has been ‘outsourced’ effectively bleeding the conflict across the galaxy to infect and fester everywhere it reaches. In classic Shakespearean fashion Saga pits two warriors from opposite sides against one another only to harvest love between them. In this instance we have Marko and Alana as our key players. This love blossoms into their subsequent defection from their posts and a child birthed into refugee status on a distant planet called Cleave. This child is the oft narrator of the series, Hazel. What follows involves interference from a bounty hunter with a cat sidekick able to identify lies flawlessly and in spoken English, a race of bureaucratic, robot, royalty with televisions for heads, a horrific spectral young babysitter who’s waist up is all that remains, a horrendous giant with nothing to hide, rocket ship forests and an arsenal of weapons, magic and mechanical alike, that put your D&D imagination to shame.
Issue 9 is midway through the second arc of the ongoing series and it features everything we’ve come to expect from the series be it beautiful environments, intricate character designs, witty dialogue, unique voices so fully-realized that even the talking cat who only says one word exudes sass and confidence, or action/adventure storytelling equally exciting and dramatic. This arc finds Marko’s parents and another significant figure returned into the mayhem that is his ever-unraveling life. With one of the most heartfelt and sincere confrontations of the series so far played out between Alana and Marko’s father, Barr and Marko’s hilarious pursuit of his mother Klara through a wasteland on the brink of implosion in the previous issues, this installment follows up with the Will, the bounty hunter on the trail of the two deserters. However sparked by a detour that led to Sextillion, a planet that one can only image the sweaty reek of, The Will finds himself on a much different trajectory than originally planned. This issue is one of the most action-oriented yet and is more a revenge tale told from the perspective of a recently devastated, and currently pissed off trained killer.
Saga succeeds in being a rapidly expanding ensemble cast spreading throughout the cosmos that allows equal opportunity for even the most seemingly insignificant characters, deeply examining their motivations and specific plight whether it impacts the overall universe greatly or subtly, adding depth to the entire project. Standing as a testament to the brilliance of this series and strength of every character’s addition and design, Issue 9 is a The Will/Lying Cat (and a few other surprise guests) focused chapter that joins the renegade bounty hunter through his dreams where he faces off with guards wielding frighteningly large dildo swords, to an old refueling station on Indica where prohibition era gangster sucker fish have a very classy, coordinated dress code and eventually “thataway”. Not often is there an imagined world so appealing I can’t wait to return to it every month, as each visit is more enlightening, expansive and enjoyable than the last.
Saga is a massively expanding, impressively designed world that we are thrown right in the middle of with nothing but elegant fluidity by creative team Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Pride of Baghdad) and Calgary local Fiona Staples (North 40, DV8: Gods and Monsters), where each subsequent issue is another door unlocked and world unleashed. With some truly astounding images courtesy of Staples, complimented by ubiquitous banter from the razor sharp wit of Vaughan, this particular issue boasts the remarkable substance to each character, particularly the moral ambiguity and confliction in the Will, the parallels between his struggle and Marko’s own journey, the team dynamic between him and the newly introduced Gwendolyn (issue 8) and the unbridled potential that Saga uses expertly within the medium.
Rob Gruszecki is a writer, musician and Wednesday warrior
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Read more of his comic reviews (Dear, Ghost Factory. What Should I Read?) or listen to the Comics Round-up weekly Podcast both found at www.flashfact.org