As Hazel and her family venture into the Badlands, their newest companion is left to hold down the fort on her own… Your Major Spoilers review of Saga #45 awaits!
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Colorist: Fiona Staples
Coordinated By: Eric Stephenson
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Saga: Hazel and her star-crossed parents have embarked on a thrilling new adventure at the westernmost edge of the universe… But things aren’t exactly what they seem, and there are monsters in them thar hills.
SUSPENSEFUL AND ENGAGING
Perhaps the most wonderful part of Saga is the Roddenberry-style use of the science fiction trappings to comment upon the contemporary world, specifically Marko and Alana’s quest for affordable health care in a cold, uncaring universe. Their unborn child is stillborn, but the pregnancy is imbuing Alana with some of the mystical abilities of Marko’s people, including this issue’s knife-twisting development: A ghostly projection of what their lost son could have been. The presence of the boy, Kurti, is heartbreaking given the circumstances, and our intrepid couple is very much unsure of how he will affect their daughter, Hazel. At the same time, Petrichor (who has remained behind at their tree/ship/home) is rousted by cowboy centaur aliens, who are ready to murder her until she cobbles together a story about coming to their world to get her own abortion, only to have the murderous natives warn her about the monsters that live here.
Y’know, the same monsters that Alana and Marko are on their way to see?
WHAT A FINAL PAGE!
The last-page reveal of… something… literally took my breath away, and I now can’t wait to see how this story shakes down. Bryan K. Vaughan is a talented writer and this issue is incredibly engaging, but it’s Fiona Staples art that really impresses this time around. Petrichor improvising a defense against her attackers is brutal and starkly rendered, while the final page is still giving me goosebumps. This issue also features Hazel channeling some of her own abilities, some really cute interactions between her and her ghostly sibling and some very adult fears at the heart of it all. It’s a comic book that makes you not only feel for their plight but think about what it means in a greater scheme, the kind of fiction that I love to read as the story works on multiple levels.
THE BOTTOM LINE: ANOTHER WINNER
Every time I miss an issue or two of this book, I come back and immediately regret it (and also grab all the ensuing issues to enjoy in a big marathon.) Saga #45 works as a narrative, as a meta-narrative and as a single-issue read, with art that stands out even by the high standards of the book, earning a well-deserved 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. It’s a book that doesn’t spare the readers’ feelings or underestimate their intelligence, making for a challenging but very satisfying read…