The Saga comic book series recently returned with creators Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples completely redefining the science-fiction genre.
Warning: The following contains spoilers for Saga #55, on sale now from Image Comics.
The Image comic book series saga (by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples) has become a touchstone comic book. Its ten year history has explored the brittle edges of comic books through genre-defining art and a gorgeous, sprawling story. After a nearly four year hiatus, the series has returned with the same creative team at the helm, and it continues to defy what comics and science fiction can do.
the story of Saga follows Hazel, a child born to alien members of warring factions. Her parents of her, Alana and Marko, are the main characters for the majority of the series. The two fight against the warring factions to escape with their child, doing what they can to survive. Right before the series went on hiatus, Marko was killed by the bounty hunter known as The Will, and fans were left on the edge of their seats for four years.
Issue #55 reintroduces the gritty world, and although years have passed for readers of the series, the death of Marko is still a fresh trauma for the characters of the series. The Will is still elated from his completion of the job, and Alana’s new business partner, Bombazine, is doing all he can to survive alongside the family.
In this issue, the bright panels are reserved for Hazel and her adopted robotic brother, Squire. After a brief moment of joy, the two are whisked away into a dour scene that expounds the severe sense of loss both of the children have had to endure in this dark, violent world.
This dour situation is followed by a somewhat graphic sex scene between Gwendolyn, Marko’s ex who had killed him, and The Will. As if taking a cue from The Network, the two have a business discussion while enraptured in lovemaking, and the final panel featuring the two characters serves as a backdrop to Marko’s skull. This not only fully confirms the death of Marko, but the fact that his death will not be respected by those who caused it. In fact, it will likely be celebrated.
This issue’s juxtaposition of positive and negative experiences is structured around the idea of change and the duality of man. Throughout the first few volumes, The Will serves as both a villain and a hero. In this issue, Alana goes topless to have men gravitate toward her, then ambushes them by trying to sell formula and bringing up their wives and children. Saga #55 is all about duality from the beginning.
This duality is a major departure from the typical structure of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Most of these use a structure referred to as a “quest narrative,” which has clearly defined lines of right and wrong and a clear goal in mind. In The Lord of the Rings, for example, the goal is to take the ring to Mordor, with the Fellowship of the Ring designated as good and the forces of Sauron recognized as bad. In Saga, however, the only true goal is survival, and the lines between good and bad are blurred. The characters are simply people existing in a war-torn universe who are desperately trying to eke out something that resembles a legacy of some sort.
The return to this world feels intentionally mutated and sad in this long awaited issue. The revival of this comic has already come to be very different from the revivals of franchises such as starwars and bladerunner. The science-fiction staples have been all but abandoned, and Saga continues to tell its own story of a diaspora and its fateful fallout.
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