Review of “Saga: Volume 9” by Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan

Background:

Saga tells the continuing story of the little family of Marko and Alana – a mixed-race couple – and their daughter Hazel. The family is struggling to stay together in spite of a war between their two races.

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.

Marko and Alana just want to find a way to be safe and happy and live in peace, but it doesn’t seem possible. The three of them are being pursued throughout the galaxy by a number of beings trying to exploit them or kill them (or first one, then the other).

Volume 9 picks up with the members of Marko’s family group considering getting new identities as amphibians in exchange for a news exclusive about their stories. (This would be analogous to a witness protection program.) The reporters Doff and Upsher make the offer not only to Marko’s immediate family, but also to those traveling with them: Sir Robert, his girlfriend Petrichor, and his son Squire.

What happens in Volume 9 is nothing short of astonishing, in two senses. One is the story line itself, which is as emotional, nuanced, and as stunning on several levels as one could imagine. And the second is in the “meta” sense of authorial discretion, because in this volume the authors make some pretty shocking decisions for the trajectory of the series. Sorry I can’t reveal more, but you won’t want to miss this installment of the saga.

Illustrator Fiona Staples is again listed as first author, which seems appropriate. Her art work contributes to the meaning of the story in ways it would be hard for words to do alone. She not only imbues the vivid panels with dynamism and astounding creativity, but the way she captures emotions of all sorts of creatures is incredibly impressive.

Evaluation: This is an outstanding “saga” whether you like graphic novels or not. This is not by any means a series for kids but it is nevertheless a story strongly supportive of families – both the kind you are born with, and the kind you make as you go through life. This volume is a must-read, but is not a standalone.

Rating: 4/5

Published by Image Comics, 2018

Note: If you are new to the series, be sure to read the books in order!

Note 2: According to Newsarama, where “comic book fans and sci-fi enthusiasts can find the latest news, theories and speculation about their favorite characters, movies, books, games and shows”:

“Image Comics’ long-running Saga will be having a year-long ‘intermission’ following this week’s #54. [#54 is the last issue of the series included in Volume 9.] In a letter published in the backmatter of this week’s issue, series writer/co-creator Brian K. Vaughan explains the reason behind his and Fiona Staples’ decision.

‘After fifty-four issues and over 1,200 consecutive pages of sequential storytelling together, Fiona and I have decided to take an extended break before we eventually reunite with Saga #55. And unlike our usual three months of ‘Vacationanza’ between arcs, we plan to pause publication of this series for at least the next year.’”

Marko’s expression echoes my feelings both about Volume 9 and about the subsequent hiatus: Nooooooooooo!

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5 Responses to Review of “Saga: Volume 9” by Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan

  1. BermudaOnion says:

    I know some people who love this series but I suspect it’s too fantastical for me.

  2. I have been watching various posts about this series with interest, but this one made me actually go check if my library has copies. Dang, it sounds good! Unfortunately, half of the series available here are in e-book format, and I just can’t enjoy a graphic novel that way, sigh.

  3. Beth F says:

    I’m really behind in my Saga reading … maybe I’ll do a giant catch-up this summer.

  4. Ahahaha, okay, I got too anxious from this post, and I looked up what the spoilers are. I had an inkling that it would be, ah, one of two things, and both of them would have made me very sad indeed. SAGA. SAGA is always breaking my heart. I might postpone reading this volume until the hiatus is over and I can read the latest stuff and know that the survivors are okay.

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