Saga Vol 6, Issues 31-36 by Brian K Vaughan

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Saga, Vol 6, Issues 31-36 by Brian K Vaughan (writer) and Fiona Staples (artist)

SAGA VOL 6Saga Vol 6 is the first one I had to wait for, as I read the first 5 volumes back-to-back. This is such a popular, excellently-written, and amazingly-illustrated series that the main question fans will have is, “Is it still as greater as ever?” Well, I’d say it isn’t quite as brilliant as the first 4 volumes, but Vaughan and Staples have established a very high level of storytelling and can probably maintain it for quite some time. So rest assured, fans will not be overly disappointed. This series remains centered on the characters, though this time the surprises and twists are fewer in number.

As I mentioned in my previous review, the tone had become a bit darker in Vol 5, and while I applaud the series for taking risks and embracing change, it was nice to see Vol 6 switching things up a bit and being more whimsical and less violent than usual. This may be because Hazel is no longer a baby – she’s a precocious little 4 year old, and is starting to talk and observe the adult world with less innocence than your average toddler. Until now she has been narrating offstage as an adult, and the incisive wit and life insights have been one of the greatest charms of the series.

So now we get to see Hazel in action as a little girl in what looks like a school but is quickly revealed as a detention facility on Landfall for “enemy noncombatants”. There are several adults also held there that serve as her “aunties”, including Alana’s mother Klara and Lexis, a former bounty-hunter. There is also another detainee named Petrichor who harbors her own secrets. Hazel develops a close relationship with her spider-like teacher, whom she reveals her dangerous secret to. Hazel has a lot to say about kids and grownups:

Saga_V6_1“No matter how much freedom they’re given, most kids are still glorified props, carefully shuttled from one secure location to the next. We’re not children, we’re eggs. But sooner or later, those eggs begin to crack. As they emerge, the creatures beneath those fragile shells begin to understand that they possess more agency than they ever dreamed. And when you finally realize you’ve been living your whole life inside a shitty nest, there’s only one thing to do.”

Meanwhile, Marko and Alana are finally reunited by the common cause of extracting Hazel from Landfall. So they make up as couples will do after major blowouts. They remain a very realistic and likable young couple trying to be the best parents possible amid difficult circumstances. They end up forming an alliance with a very unlikely individual to get access to Landfall.

We also revisit Doff and Upsher, the gay journalist couple who were pursuing the sensational story of star-crossed lovers and a rumored love child that would shake up both sides of the civil war. They follow the trail to Hazel’s ballet teacher Ginny, who points them further along the trail. When the finally reach a distant planet, they run afoul of yet another familiar face who has gotten a bit…heavier.

So now we have the familiar multiple narratives, favorite characters, snappy dialogue, gorgeously precise artwork, and rich galactic background that make this series so great. So why did I feel like Vaughan was coasting just a wee bit? The story is as fast-paced and addictively-readable as always, and I breezed through it in one afternoon. But when I was Saga-V6_2finished, I couldn’t help feeling “Was that it?” Nothing really conclusive happened, and despite some eyebrow-raising panels, I wasn’t floored in shocked surprise like I was in the earlier volumes. Everything moved along at a steady pace, but there were no scene-stealing new characters or revelations. And having been spoilt by that earlier on, Vol 5 and 6 have been a bit lacking in table-turning plot twists.

If it weren’t for Hazel’s development as a young lady, I’d feel we’ve reached the middle volumes of a larger story, with the resultant loss of momentum we’ve been dreading. So while it still remains a wonderful comic series that captures the fickle tastes of Gen-X, I’m still hoping it will step it up a gear in future episodes.


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STUART STAROSTA, on our staff since March 2015, is a lifelong SFF reader who makes his living reviewing English translations of Japanese equity research. Despite growing up in beautiful Hawaii, he spent most of his time reading as many SFF books as possible. After getting an MA in Japanese-English translation in Monterey, CA, he has lived in Tokyo, Japan for the last 13 years with his wife, daughter, and dog named Lani. Stuart's reading goal is to read as many classic SF novels and Hugo/Nebula winners as possible, David Pringle's 100 Best SF and 100 Best Fantasy Novels, along with newer books & series that are too highly-praised to be ignored. His favorite authors include Philip K Dick, China Mieville, Iain M. Banks, N.K. Jemisin, J.G. Ballard, Lucius Shepard, Neal Stephenson, Kurt Vonnegut, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Robert Silverberg, Roger Zelazny, Ursula K. LeGuin, Guy Gavriel Kay, Arthur C. Clarke, H.G. Wells, Olaf Stapledon, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mervyn Peake, etc.

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One comment

  1. I’m one behind AGAIN! time to visit the comics store.

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