REVIEW: Saga #11

by

Or – “Sacrifice and Loss…”

Saga has quickly turned into the most gripping book on the stands, month after month, but this issue promises to up the stakes considerably.  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!


Saga11CoverSAGA #11
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Letterer: Fonografiks
Colorist: Fiona Staples
Editor: Eric Stephenson
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Saga: Marco and Alana are young lovers from planets at war, who met in an internment camp and went on the run after getting pregnant.  Their flight, for some reason, caught the attention of the authorities, who sent a series of bounty hunters after them, including the man known only as The Will.  accompanied by Marco’s former fiancée (a long story that we haven’t actually heard all of yet), he confronted our young lovers, joined by Marco’s parents, and inadvertently nearly killed them all.  With both ships damaged by a cosmic egg-splosion, both protagonists and antagonists face the very real prospect of dying in airless space.

OPEN WITH THE SEX SCENE…

The team of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have been delivering a wonderful reading experience each and every month with Saga, switching back and forth through multiple time-frames and making it look effortless.  This issue begins with a tender moment for our heroes, with the initial splash catching the (you should excuse the expression) tail end of what appears to be a phenomenal session of sexual activity.  The sequence is beautifully rendered by Staples, giving us a mostly-realistic and even understated perspective without bordering on pornographic (which is not to say that it’s not a very adult sequence.)  The best part of it all is in the priceless Vaughan dialogue, as the twosome discuss the dangers of what just happened, and the ramifications of their relationship on the war between their peoples.  When Marco reminds her that she directed the action, Alana responds with what may be the most wonderful line of 2013:  “That was Sexy Alana!  She’s a crazy person!”  (I have totally had this conversation, by the way.)  Even in the midst of a post-coital bliss, the conversation builds both the character and the narrative, explaining what happened before issue #1 and deepening our understanding of the bond between Marco and Alana.

…AND THEN BLOW SOME $#!+ UP!

Cut to the present, as the crew of Starship Treebark (not its real name, I’m sure they can do something much more creative with that) deal with the aftermath of last issue’s explosion, as a giant space baby tries to eat them.  It’s actually as ludicrous as it sounds while simultaneously being awe-inspiring and scary, an amazing effort of both story and art.  Saga is particularly wonderful in the fact that every character, no matter how minor, feels fully rounded and developed, as shown in The Will’s response to his ship being damaged.  In a super-heroic effort, he leaps OUT of the ship, grabs his partner/pet Lying Cat, then drags them both back into the safety of the craft.  It’s a wonderful sequence, made even more wonderful by the expression on his face in the final panel, clearly showing the toll that the stunt had on even his body.  Things aren’t much better on-board the tree-ship, as they manage to make their escape from the giant black-hole fetus creature, but only at a very high cost, leading to a flashback from Marco to his childhood on Wrath.  The language used for Marco’s people is fascinating, reminding me a little bit of Portuguese, but even my high-school Spanish is good enough to understand exactly what’s going on, leaving the ending that much sadder and that much more brilliant in its execution.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A TOUCHING TOP-NOTCH COMIC.

Month after month, Saga continues to impress, and this issue is no exception.  The two makeshift “families” (The Will, his cat, Gwendolyn and Slave Girl have a similar dysfunctional dynamic to Marc, Alana and company) try to unite under their common goal, and even though half of them would happily kill the other half, you have to root for everyone equally.  This issue’s only failing (if you can even call it a failing) is how heart-breaking the ending is to read, which I have to admit is a badge of how good the story is, and I am eagerly looking forward to next issue.  The most amazing part of Saga is the way it engages me in a science fiction story without the usual claptrap of nanites, tractor beams and punny names (there’s a reason I have to limit my interactions with the Star Wars Expanded Universe) while giving me a whole new paradigm for outer space-type tales.  Saga #11 is expertly written and drawn, and evokes strong emotions from me as a reader, while strengthening all of the characters with gentle but note-perfect character interactions, earning a very well-deserved 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  Someday, we might even get Saga action figures, bedsheets and hats, just like that thing George Lucas wrote back in the 1970s…

Rating: ★★★★½

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