Review: Saga #14
I’m in Heaven. Reading a book like Saga #14 reminds me why I love comics. It reminds me why I want to be a writer. Saga #14 makes me feel good about myself. And it underlines why I will always value creativity and originality over the reality TV/celebrity adoration schlock that fills the world these days. Saga #14, and Saga the series as a whole, is pure, unadulterated narrative joy. If comics were a drug, Saga would be the greatest high possible.
Saga #14 is still in the middle of the current chapter, but all of the relationships and back stories that Brian K. Vaughn built up at the start of the series are paying off in ways I couldn’t have dreamed possible.
Comic Rating: 9/10 – Great!
The only reason Saga #14 doesn’t have a perfect score is just because I’m still figuring out the criteria for a perfect score. Also, this issue is almost entirely transition. We’re still catching up to Saga #12, and nothing too big storywise happens in this issue. I’m singing Saga #14’s praises almost entirely on the strength of its characters, the dialogue and the scenes that put them together. Vaughn and artist Fiona Staples have created an amazing fictional world and a truly magical cast of characters. I love reading Saga.
This issue also contains the best Lying Cat scene of the series so far. And considering all the great Lying Cat scenes, that’s saying a lot. If the scene doesn’t at least put a smile on your face, you’re a robot.
I have no idea where Saga is going. Is there going to be a battle? Are they going to end the war? Based on little Hazel’s narration, the world stretches far into the future, but I’m sure the series will end long before that. None of the characters or plots are permanent. Prince Robot IV could be killed in the very next issue and I would completely buy that as part of the story. Not even Marko and Alana are safe. That’s a scary proposition, but when the issues are this good, it’s also thrilling.
Join me after the jump for a full synopsis and more review!
We open, once again, with those two tabloid reporters, now named Upsher and Doff. I’m glad they’re back. I like them. Their investigation has brought them to the home of Alana’s parents, or at least, her dad and his wife. The pair find out that Alana’s step-mom is Alana’s age and they went to school together. The woman, with her pretty butterfly wings, is also a little ditzy. She believes she was a positive female role model in Alana’s life. This picture proves otherwise.
The reporters ask if Alana ever showed signs of sympathizing with Wreath, and her step-mom insists that her step-daughter is no turncoat. They believe that Alana was kidnapped by a Wreath soldier, and they’re praying for her swift return.
Flash out to Quietus and the family, where Hazel’s narration informs us that Alana never returned to her home planet. Hazel and her grandmother eventually did, but that’s a story for another time.
For now, they’re on Quietus, with the author Heist. He’s grumpy and says he can probably hide a family of Moonies, but Marko reveals that his wife is from Landfall.
That moment was exciting. We’ve been building up to Heist for a long time now, and to get that reaction is very encouraging. I got the feeling that all of this is going somewhere, that baby Hazel is meant for something big. We also find out that Hazel is named after the librarian who first recommended Heist’s work to Alana when she was younger. He takes the child in his arms, a warmth coming over him at this prophecy child. Also, Heist is still kind of drunk.
Heheh, good times. Anyway, Klara is more than a little annoyed that Heist vomited on her grandchild, but Marko insists they at least see him through to a first aid kit, since her ear is still bleeding. Heist says those bone bugs won’t scatter until morning, so they can stay with him. At the very least, he owes them a load of laundry, and Alana doesn’t want to pass up real laundry facilities with real detergent. Izabel and Klara share a moment of disbelief before we cut to The Will and and his crew out on that paradise planet they were on last issue.
The Will is teaching Gwendolyn how to use his lance thingy to stab flying rainbow sharks. She’s pretty good at it. Slave Girl – now named Sophie – volunteers to cut out the shark’s bones. As a sex slave, she was trained to cook all sorts of things. But The Will takes her knife away and tells her, nicely, that she’s not a slave girl anymore, and that her name is Sophie. The girl tells The Will that she likes whatever name pleases him. Gwendolyn tells her to run along with Lying Cat while she and The Will discuss what they’re going to do next.
The Will says he has sources out looking for the wooden rocketship, but it doesn’t matter, because he’s out. He’s ready to settle down on this little planet and the rest of them be damned. Gwen is pretty upset that he would back out of the job, but The Will says he’s had an epiphany. This is what he wants to do – and his visions of The Stalk are still haunting him. She’s floating around, invisible to everyone but The Will, giving him advice on how to deal with Gwen while she’s yelling at him. The Stalk tells The Will to kiss Gwen right in the middle of a chewing out.
Back on Quietus, Heist gives everyone the dime tour of his lighthouse home. He’s got stacks upon stacks of books from other writers who want him to read their work and provide cover blurbs. He’s also got a big wall of notes and clippings while he researches his next novel. He says it’s about the opposite of war, which isn’t peace – though Alana shouts, “NO SPOILERS!”
Heist gets some disinfectant for Klara’s ear, and he finds out that she fought in the Battle of Cartwright. Heist explains that his first wife was killed in the Battle of Cartwright. She was a singer who had gone home to show her parents her new baby, but died during a Wreath assault.
Klara asks the others to leave the room. “The grownups need to speak privately.”
She and Heist discuss his son while he works on her ear. The baby survived – we heard about him in Saga #12, and how he died. Heist says that nobody really escapes this thing.
That scene gave me chills. The dialogue is amazing. And it’s between Klara and Heist, two characters we know so little about! But Vaughn creates such rich and personable characters.
The pair of them start sharing stories about their spouses over a drink, and we cut back to Sophie and Lying Cat.
There have been a lot of great Lying Cat scenes in this series so far. Lying Cat is just such a fun, silly character. But this scene with Sophie – and I’ll post the scene in its entirety – has got to be the absolute best. It’s just adorable. Pretty much apropos of nothing, but glorious in its beauty and simplicity.
Oh man. Take a moment and let that soak in, won’t you? It’s beautiful.
But moving on, The Will and Gwen continue to argue about The Will’s decision – and their sexual tension – when he gets a call from one of his sources. The skeevy alien is at some planetary rest stop, and while he hasn’t seen the wooden rocketship, he has spotted The Stalk’s old skullcraft, complete with Prince Robot IV stopping for gas. The alien overheard the Prince talking about some planet called ‘Quietus’.
And that’s the issue!
It was amazing, right? But my write-up can’t do it justice! This issue was dripping with wonderful dialogue and gorgeous, flowing scenes. The characters are as strong as they’ve ever been, and they’re connecting in such beautiful ways. There are only so many ways I can write just how fun and wonderful this issue was! You should be reading Saga! It’s brilliant. It’s beautiful. It’s got possibly the best cast in all of comics right now. It’s story is unique and woven in ways that we mere mortals cannot even begin to comprehend. Vaughn and Staples are working on a masterpiece here, and the sooner you get on board, the better.
And the best part is, more great scenes are on their way! Surely sometime soon, Marko and his family will have to confront Prince Robot IV. We already know he makes it to Quietus and confronts Heist. Is The Will going to be there too? So much could change when all of the characters wind up at Heist’s little lighthouse. And change is great in a narrative like this. I’m sure Vaughn could write an amazing story about Alana, Robot and Gwen stuck on a broken spaceship somewhere. Whatever happens, I am completely on board. This series won me over with the first issue, and it’s still as brilliant as ever.