There has been a storm brewing in the Saga universe for some time and after reading the latest chapter of Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ sci-fi epic, it looks like we’re finally starting to see some electricity! To quickly recap: Hazel and her teacher Noreen have begun crafting her prison escape just as Marko and Alana are finalizing their own plans to break their daughter out of the Landfall compound. A reluctant Prince Robot IV is along for the ride, forced to take part in his most difficult, if not certainly his most hilarious mission ever: acting. Finally, a still hilariously-fat The Will looks to settle an old score but encounters an unlikely hero standing in his path. In an issue where not a lot was expected to happen, several major plot points have begun to set the stage for what promises to be an epic conclusion next month!
Before going any further we need to talk about that cover. Without question one of the most appealing aspects to the Saga series has to be the cover art of Fiona Staples and this may be her best one yet. I mean seriously, how much more bad ass can you get: Klara getting prison tats put on her body by Lexis!? Too cool. But aside from the obvious badassery of the image there lies a much more subtle character nuance of Klara’s, one which we very seldom get to see. Take a look at the tattoo on her left shoulder – see the spinning wheel? Now, why a spinning wheel of all things? Give up? OK I’ll tell you: remember Barr, Marko’s father/Klara’s husband whom we met all the way back at the end of issue #6? He was an Armourer (Alana actually called him a seamstress) for the Wreath armies and he did all of his work on a magical spinning wheel; the tattoo is an homage to his memory. In a single image Staples’ is able to effortlessly showcase both Klara’s strength and emotional vulnerability. It’s a truly touching tribute and a wonderful little Easter Egg for loyal readers.
I already mentioned how the artwork and the writing in Saga are very evocative in nature; not only in regards to the heartfelt but also when it comes to the hilarious as well. Take what happens to Prince Robot IV: in order for Alana and Marko to gain clearance to Landfall, they need him to impersonate a member of the Royal Family – Count Robot XV. The Prince is perplexed as to how their idea is ever going to work because according to him, he looks nothing like the man! He accuses Marko and Alana of being ‘filthy racists’, becomes utterly enraged when the plan goes off without a hitch, and exclaims with incredulity ‘was I actually just mistaken for some weak-chinned excuse of intermediate nobility?” There is something that I just find beyond words funny when I read this; of all things to accuse a Robot of having - a weak chin? These types of moments help to humanize the characters and make the readers feel connected to them. Prince Robot IV may be just nuts and bolts to an extent but he is also vain, proud, and in his own way very human. I feel that a part of what makes Saga so successful is that it's always on the verge of making me either laugh or cry; it knows how to create a genuine human emotional experience. It’s that presence of emotion that continues to engage with readers month after month, year after year and keeps us all coming back for more.
You can probably already tell that this was a bit of a ‘calm before the storm’ type chapter but it still contained all of the elements that make Saga great: incredible and insightful art, heartfelt familial moments and of course, spontaneous fits of laughter that are often found at the most seemingly inappropriate times. Nearly five years and thirty five chapters later Saga continues to excel and set the standard for great writing and art in comics. Don’t expect a reinvention of the wheel with this one but at the same time be excited for what’s to come!
[button btn_url="" btn_color="pink" btn_size="large" btn_style="default" btn_outlined="no" link_target="blank" link_rel="" icon_left="" icon_right=""]Score: 3/5[/button]
Saga #35 Writer: Brian K Vaughn Artist: Fiona Staples Letters: FONOGRAFIKS Price: $2.99 Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 3/30/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital