Writer: Brian K. Vaughan / Artist: Fiona Staples / Image Comics
Saga has been a comic from day one of my reading that has always delivered on all these fantastic and strange characters. Sure they may have horns, moss covered backs, wings or one eye (or many)..but that doesn’t keep them from being interesting, lovable, hated and sincerely some of the best characters to use to play around with themes like the long term effects of war, prejudice, blended families, substance abuse and so on and so on. As different as many of these characters are from us in terms of the physical–all of of their convictions, their choices, how they express themselves are familiar.
The first lines of this book are, in Hazel’s narrating words: “We’re all aliens to someone.” And the first person we see in the panel attached to these words is a fellow prisoner of war like Hazel and her grandmother, is Petrichor whom we discover is possibly a transgender person last issue as Hazel accidentally comes across her showering. Petrichor who is different to a degree where other detainees actively exclude her is the first person to come across Hazel and the dilemma of her fallen teacher and help her.
Seeing Hazel exposed and seeing both her parents genetic features (Marko’s horns and Alanna’s wings previously covered and wrapped) makes Petrichor pause but help Hazel out anyway is a beautiful sign of solidarity. And a move made perhaps made from sympathy too as she believes that Hazel is a product of rape. Because who is really alien here in this story where trees are rocketships and people fall in love with whom they’ve been told is the enemy their whole lives? What does that word even mean here in the context of the story that is Saga?
The strings of faith seem to be tossed about once more but edging our characters closer and closer still to each other as Marko and Alanna gain more ground in finding Hazel as they reconnect with old friends and a certain former Robot Prince. Yet The Will moves forward on a drug and revenge driven quest aided by two unwilling helpers who seek an end to their capture by him. Sacrifice plays an important reoccurring theme here as unwilling parties are guilted and most definitely threatening into lending a hand as little Hazel is learning an awful lot about life, especially from behind bars as a prisoner of war and as a body to be used for barter between sides as her beloved teacher reveals to her.
I got to say that this issue rings true one thing for certain: This story is following Hazel’s life story. It’s starts with her birth and has slowly inched its way through her earliest years where she is a bright child born of two parents from two different worlds. She’s an anomaly. She’s something that shouldn’t exist but does. Each lesson no matter how small, or heart breaking is vital and is just as important for us as it is for Hazel in her developing not only in understanding her own world but how the worlds around her works.
I hate when time jumps are used, especially in comics because I often feel that it’s used to cover up for lazy writing and dismisses certain characters. But here? Brian K. Vaughan keeps nailing it and each new stage of Hazel from baby to toddler to child to who knows what what we’ll see next keeps me as a reader interested, emotionally invested and present when I read. His writing coupled with Fiona Staples’ art keeps reminding me of why Saga helped bring me back to the world of comics when I felt so bored with it.
10 Teacher of The Year Award Plaques out of 10
P.S. It’s 2016 and my body wasn’t ready for a Ghus cover but here we are. Thank you Fiona and Brian!