Writer: Brian K. Vaughan / Artist: Fiona Staples / Image Comics

Saga #43 feels like both a continuation of the painfully morbid #42 the story dropped us off a cliff with, and a jumping on point for new fans (new fans, who are you depraved savages?!) as there is a brief “the story thus far” actually in the comic itself. It is a hard reboot, in the narrative as well. The characters feel like they are starting over, in varying degrees of despair or loss when the story begins.

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Because this is a Saga book, the art is crisp and inventive and outright amazing. Staples almost never disappoints and this book is no exception. Alana is the cowgirl facing badass we didn’t know we needed, but we absolutely do. She’s drawn so natural in this weird setting (along with her colorful zebra horse, thing…whatever). Overall, it all looks great. Not only are the character models sharp and familiar, but she does so much with facial expressions and mannerisms with such little room to do it.

As for the story, it’s about 94% great. Alana’s journey to take care of her condition, the overt (read: wonderful) politics of Abortion Town (yes, Abortion Town fam) are both funny and hugely relevant to our current political landscape. The flashback of who and how they survived the planet that was devoured, in addition to Hazel’s continued education and maturity are all fascinating, A+ stuff.

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But, we gotta talk about, the part.

***Slight spoiler ahead***

Petrichor is revealed to be transgender when Hazel, the curious child that she is, asks her about her penis. Petrichor’s response is pitch perfect, speaking about objectification, feelings of others making them feel illegitimate, etc. But Petrichor refers to themselves as transgendered, a term that has been pretty widely shelved as transgender is the accepted and more considerate term. As a cishet man, I’m not in any position to express what is or isn’t offensive to those that identify as transgender, but I was very surprised to see this apparent slip by a creative team that has been very attentive, supportive an apparent provocateur for many marginalized community. I don’t believe any ill intent was at hand considering that it was part of a conversation that was largely supportive and gave voice to a transgender character in their book.

It’s always difficult with fictional stories like this, because when such closely identified language is used, there’s often an argument for it being spoken by a character, and characters can’t be considered as infallible with their language as the author. Still, if you are going to incorporate the struggles and voice of characters such as these, then you have an obligation to get it right. This doesn’t feel like they did.

***End Spoiler***

Possibly, a serious miscalculation on language sticks out in an otherwise surprising and enjoyable issue showing our heroes in new light. No matter the circumstances, its still really good to have Saga back.

8.4 “We Could Have Had It All” Panels out of 10

Reading Saga? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.

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  • William is the Editor-In-Chief, leader of the Black Knights and father of the Avatar. With Korra's attitude, not the other one.

  • Show Comments

  • reader

    About that iffy scene, there’s something else iffy about it:

    Back in issue #35 Petrichor told Klara and Zee about Noreen and Hazel keeping a secret. As Lexis put it, “Petri here says you been acting shady with your teach.”

    Now in issue #43 it’s Petrichor herself asking Hazel to keep a secret (presumably also a secret from her parents).

    Sooner or later Alana and Marko will find out that “Hazel been acting shady with Petri.” It wuld be more dramatic if someone jumps to conclusions and someone gets hurt than if Petrichor realizes “hold on, this is not good” and goes back to tell Hazel to tell her parents instead of keeping it secret from them.

    • reader

      Hold it, I got Hazel’s honorary aunt’s name wrong when i first wrote in the comment box, then went back to check, then corrected it the second time I got it wrong but not the first? WTF, self?

  • reader

    “Petrichor’s response is pitch perfect, speaking about objectification, feelings of others making them feel illegitimate, etc.”

    Also unfortunately realistic. :/

    She’s telling a 6-year-old stuff as though the kid has a full adult vocabulary, like my parents did when I was little and too young to grok the abstractions and specialist jargon they used. That’s really talking *at* the kid, not *to* the kid. 🙁 Also see http://www.theonion.com/article/talking-to-your-child-about-the-wtc-attack-8058 .

  • reader

    BTW, did the cover make anyone else think “that’s a zebra, aren’t those way harder to ride than horses?” more than anything? I mean, the zebra is a real pain-in-the-ass animal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOmjnioNulo

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