The newest arc of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ sci-fi epic has taken a turn for the slower more character driven moments. This has never been more apparent than in the latest issue. Issue 33 centers around the two reporters, Upsher and Doff that we’ve previously seen trying to follow the main characters Marko and Alana and their hybrid child Hazel. This issue picks up with them back on the trail of the fugitives retracing old worlds and revisiting familiar characters. Brian K. Vaughan is a master at humor and he definitely plays that up between the two reporters. Upsher and Doff have the back and forth repertoire of any classic buddy couple. With Upsher being the more excited, free-willed partner and Doff being more restrained and strict. The reporters do a great job and follow clues about their subjects but they are clues that have been revealed in previous issues, interviewing the dingy housewife Ginny, who formed a bond with the fugitives. This scene works because we know so much about the dramatic storyline thus far and it’s utterly hilarious to have it be summed up by a busy body yet good-hearted housewife. This is the type of levity that makes the story work.
As always Fiona Staples dazzles with her unique depiction of the exotic worlds. We end up seeing a lot more of the reptilian-like reporters than expected during a particular talkative sex scene. Spoiler: Their webbed-feet don’t curl.
It’s clear that time was taken to tell this story for a reason. Upsher and Doff both have a desire to regain prominence in the media world but as the issue goes on you begin to realize that they are more than just two-dimensional characters. If you’ve read Saga up to this point you know that everything alien in the world of Saga is strangely familiar to our own. We delve into their personal romantic relationship which brings up the politics of homophobia and parenthood. Are they likable characters? Sure. In a world where Saga has so many other more likable characters they don’t really stand out. The redeeming quality that ties into the main story is that these lovers realize the innocents involved in their article and that protecting them is more important than a byline. The one highlight of the issue is the triumphant return of a fan favorite character who’s taken on a disturbing change in appearance. Suddenly the levity of the issue comes to a screeching halt and we are reminded how dangerous the trail of the main characters is.
The problem with this issue is that it severely derails the confrontation that we’ve been waiting for. Sometimes these side-stories can build up anticipation until we get back to the main story and in this case it was successful. Although this issue wasn’t the best showcase of the dynamic characters introduced it does set them up to be part of an endgame which I hope happens very, very soon.
Saga #33 Writer: Brian K. Vaughan Artist: Fiona Staples Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 1/27/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital