Summary: While Gwendolyn and Lying Cat risk everything to find a cure for The Will, Marko makes an uneasy alliance with Prince Robot IV to find their missing children, who are trapped on a strange world with terrifying new enemies. Collects SAGA #25-30.
Saga, vol. 5, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples 8.0
In this fifth volume of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staple’s ongoing ‘Saga’, we are treated to a little bit more depth than in the past books. Instead of indulging in the kind of “space soap opera” plot that had mildly derailed the series of late, they finally get back to the meat of the matter: the war between Wreath and Landfall.
After all, the whole book revolves around this: Alana and Marko have paired up despite being from long-standing enemy camps, and the unlikely event of Hazel’s birth, their mixed-race daughter, is the catalyst for much of ‘Saga’s development. Further to that, their escape from the authorities was the initial impetus for the series.
Sadly, we’d gotten side-tracked by family feuds. And while some noteworthy discussions were being had, it felt like the authors were coasting.
But, finally, the impact of war and its many repercussion on its countless victims is being discussed in greater detail, and put in contrast with the ambivalence of the war-makers – and their citizens as the wars carry on endlessly and they move on with their lives, unhindered by what’s going on abroad. It finally all comes together.
Then Alana, Klara, Hazel and Dengo cross paths with revolutionaries bent on using Hazel as leverage in their demands for peace with Wreath and Landfall. Obviously, this doesn’t go quite as planned and eventually Hazel is kidnapped, leaving her parents behind. But it adds more perspective to the politics of war in this instance.
Meanwhile, Marko struggles with the violence within himself, having sworn off of all aggression after leaving the military. That, in and of itself, is an interesting journey, with its seeds sown many issues ago, but I wish that it had been explored in a more mature way – instead, he resolves it simply by taking some psychedelic drugs.
…even though he’s against them.
A lot of this volume is spent in Marko’s delirium, as he relives some of his past and confronts some of it. The problem is that we can never know what actually took place, what’s delusion and what’s conflated. Irrespective, it still provides some insight into his personality, his fears and worries – though it’s not necessarily the clearest path.
I did take exception to Vaughan’s predilection for casual drug use and celebrating it in various ways. I’m not quite sure that it’s responsible to have Marko come to peace with his own demons by using drugs or to have Yuma die in a haze and state that she died as she lived, “high as fuck”. In fact, it’s a pretty immature perspective.
And it feels gratuitous, much like some of the sex is in this series, which includes showing a giant dragon giving himself a blowjob. Seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the sex, I just think that sometimes Vaughan’s teenaged self comes up and inserts any sort of sex he can where it’s not needed. Just because.
Having said this, I still think that ‘Saga’ is ripe with more creativity than most comic book series. and that excuses some of its indulgences somewhat. Thankfully, this particular volume is deeper than some of its predecessors, which made it a lot more enjoyable to read. It didn’t just entertain and move me, it got me thinking.
And good art does that.