Fiona Staples/Brian K Vaughan
Hope y’all are ready for another 500 words of praise for Saga. It’s gotten to the point where it’s pointless to praise how good Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan is again, because we all know how excellent they are by now. Talking about their talents seems redundant in a way, so I rather talk about what worked for me in this issue, in great detail. Also spoilers. Heavy, heavy spoilers.
Saga volume 5 has been a high stake concept that started off relatively slow. Volume 4 saw Alanna, her mother in law and daughter abducted by a baby-kidnapping terrorist, forcing her husband Marko to forge an alliance with their enemy Prince Robot IV, and adorable seal man Ghus. MEANWHILE. Marko’s ex Gwendolyn, The Brand, Sophie, and the Lying cat have searching for a cure to get lovable scum bag bounty hunter the Will out of a coma, which lead to an incredibly lewd but dangerous adventure. Issue 30 wraps up both of these arcs, but not in the ways anyone was expecting. Or at ways I wasn’t expecting.
Staples and BKV get a lot done in this issue, but not all of it is quite the happy ending I was hoping for. Issue 29 was insanely brutal, so while issue 30 isn’t as soul crushing, it’s definitely not an uplifting one in the traditional sense either. There’s several reunions, but not all of them are happy ones, and the one we want the most doesn’t happen. But that’s part of the beauty of this book. Nothing is gratuitous or feel cheap, and character moments are earned, not handed to us. It makes the loss all the more painful sure, but when we get a victory here and there, it feels more important.
This is where things are going to get super spoilery, so head’s up. But I want to talk about 3 moments that stood out to me. First, is the return of the Will. On one hand, the moment should be considered a victory as our squad of awesome lady bounty hunters and their pets manage to succeed on their, but not without losing the Will’s sister. Who’s DEFINITELY DEAD, as she was rip into two and partially eaten. The Will is less than thrilled by this, and refers to one of characters by a nasty four letter word. In the hands of a lesser creative team, this would come off as hacky at best, offensive at worst. But this team still manages to make the Will feel sympathetic. It’s a rough scene to read, but something crafted flawless. It’s hard to see the fan favorite Lying Cat slink away upset, but it helps set the sense of regret and sorrow that these characters are feeling. It’s powerful scene, and the fact that BKV used such a negative word to make it some emotional only speaks of his talents.
On the lighter side of things, Marko and Alanna are finally reunited. It’s been 7 issues (which factoring the hiatus, nearly a year) since the two have been in the same setting and it’s a bittersweet reunion. Hazel’s still not back with her parents by the time this issue ends, but the Marko/Alanna is fine enough without it. Staples’ nails the body language and framing perfectly, while BKV’s narration is perfect. It’s a highlight for the series, which says a lot given the overall quality of the past issues.
And then we have the final page. Which sees Hazel in Kindergarten. This absolutely adorable, hilarious given it’s drawn, and raises a bunch of questions since it’s clear some time has passed between the final scene with the Will and this scene. This is where Saga is at it’s best. You get an insane amount of pay off, and then a great end of chapter cliffhanger that makes the hiatus less painful. It’s something you can appreciate a bunch as someone who reads the book monthly or in trade.
Issue 30 is a powerful read that’s nothing new for this book. But man, the fact that Saga has been this astonishing for this long is why it’s just won a another bunch of Eisners this back weekend at San Diego.