This outstanding graphic novel series continues the story of the little family of Marko, Alana, and their baby (now toddler) Hazel, who are struggling to stay together in spite of a war between their two peoples. Alana is from the planet Landfall, where inhabitants have wings on their backs, and Marko is from its moon, Wreath, where all people have horns on their heads. The two defied all convention (and propaganda, viz: those people have horns on their heads!) and fell in love. Hazel was born with both horns and wings, and it is Hazel who narrates the story.
There are many other memorable species and characters in this series. The people (and even animals) of the Robot Kingdom have CRTs for heads; Prince Robot III is leading the intergalactic hunt for Marko and Alana, because their love story gives lie to the party line that the people from these two species can’t, and never will, get along.
Hazel’s babysitter is the ghost of a 14-year-old girl named Izabel, who is missing her lower half because she died stepping on a landline.
Alana’s favorite writer is a cyclops. The mercenaries chasing Marko and his family include a sensitive killer for hire named “The Will,” Marko’s horned ex-girlfriend Gwendolyn, a wild cat who can distinguish lies from truth (L.C. or Lying Cat), and now in this book, The Will’s brother and his hilariously normal-looking dog.
For those who still recall the memorable “cantina scene” from “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” the analogue in Saga is the planet Sextillion, an entire world of prostitutes to meet one’s every fantasy. To that end, the planet contains a diverse array of alien creatures that make “Chalmun’s Cantina” seem quite tame in comparison.
And yet, with all of this wild weirdness, most of the characters seem like “regular” people with the same insecurities, hopes, fears, and passions that most “people” have. The aspects of child-rearing – with its stress, frustrations, exhausting challenges, and joy – and family (there is also a grandmother traveling with the little group) are incredibly moving and endearing.
In this volume, the family encounters new stresses on their relationship that just might tear it apart. But they are universal (in every sense) pressures, just as easily experienced in this universe as in every other, no matter how “alien,” in this series anyway.
It seems inaccurate to say Fiona Staples is “just” the illustrator rather than a full co-author. Her pictures are incredible – creative, expressive, and full of meaning, adding layers and implications far beyond the words. Vaughan’s dialogue is clever, satirical, and engaging, but Staples adds pure genius to the finished product.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Evaluation: I loved the first three volumes of this “saga” (so cleverly named), even though, or perhaps because, it is so wildly out of my usual comfort zone. You will see graphic (in both senses) depictions of childbirth, oral sex, anal sex, bathroom scenes – just about anything you can think of (or more accurately, might have never thought of!). In addition, the females are formidable, powerful and tough, and the guys are sensitive, nurturing, and have “an appalling sense of moral relativism.” The political commentary is as powerful as it is subtle. This series is hilarious, moving, exciting, romantic, action-packed, and crazily mentally stimulating, all at once.
Published by Image Comics, Inc., 2014