Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga #57 sends Alana away from her family while the Will heads back into enemy territory
It doesn’t seem like there’s a single topic that Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples refuse to explore in Saga. Over the years the epic series has explored xenophobia, addiction, trauma and love at great length alongside plenty of other compelling and complicated ideas. now, in Saga #57, the iconic Image Comics series dives headfirst into an exploration of grief, music and piracy. Vaughan and Staples are at their best in this exciting new issue.
Saga #57 follows Alana, Hazel, Squire and Bombazine as they adjust to their new, uneasy relationship with a ship full of pirates and Alana prepares to embark on a dangerous smuggling mission. The family’s situation isn’t as dire as the end of Saga #56 initially suggested, but their position is still quite precarious. On the other side of the universe, The Will finds himself embroiled in an equally tenuous situation, using the severed head of his long-time enemy to negotiate with King Robot on Gwendolyn’s behalf.
Vaughan makes use of a well-timed flashback at the beginning of Saga #57 to recontextualize the ending of the previous issue and to give readers some insight into the events that have led Alana and her family to their current situation. In some ways, the jump forward in time between Saga #54 and #55 mirrors the real-life hiatus that Vaughan and Staples took between issues — so this flashback is a great way to address the hiatus in the text and remind the audience of the past few tumultuous years in and out of the Saga universe. His ability to write empathetic characters is as impressive as his storytelling abilities. Vaughan has found a way to make the Will a sympathetic figure in spite of the horrendous things he’s done to the story’s heroes. This compassionate view of the amoral character adds to the rich complexity of the story.
Saga #57 gives Staples a chance to highlight her ability to capture each character’s complex emotional range. Even when Alana is not in a position to freely speak her mind about her, Staples gives the reader more than enough information to easily empathize with her. Similarly, Hazel’s continued interest in music is written all over her smiling, excitable face on almost every page. Staples does a masterful job of giving the whole cast their own physical personalities that really shine through in issues like this, where there is a momentary lull in the action. When the band of pirates is playing music, Staples fills the stage with dynamic energy, making it easy to understand why Hazel is so in love with them.
the end of Saga #57 seems to shed some new light on Bombazine’s mysterious past, which is particularly alarming now that Alana has put him in charge of keeping the children safe while she is out smuggling. As always Vaughan and Staples leave the audience with a sense of dread and excitement that can only be sated by the next issue. Each time it seems like Saga has settled into a predictable rhythm, the creators shake things up in the most entertaining ways.
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