Review: Saga #19
Back for one issue and already you’re breaking my heart again, Saga. You’re a twisted, cruel, evil comic that toys with my heart strings like a child playing with ants! I haven’t read a cliffhanger ending this inhumane since you nearly killed Lying Cat all those issues ago! Why must you destroy me like this? Why must you be so damn good, only to kill everything I love?!
We’re talking ‘Red Wedding’ levels of sadness here, folks. Prepare yourselves for the return of Saga!
Comic Rating: 8/10 – Very Good.
I’m as pleased as anybody to have Saga back in my hands. Saga, by writer Brian K. Vaughn and artist Fiona Staples, is one of the best comics being published today. It’s thoroughly enjoyable, features a universe that never stops sprawling on and on, and is probably the most deeply emotional comic book I’m reading these days. I don’t even feel this deeply about Multiple Man, my favorite superhero. The story of Hazel and her family is simply beautiful. In less than 19 issues, and Vaughn and Staples have crafted such a wonderfully warm and touching cast of characters. I was in love with them from issue #1. And I’m so glad they’re back.
But man, my heart is in tatters.
From the end of the last volume to this new issue, we’ve skipped ahead a few months or years, depending on how long it takes for baby Hazel to grow into toddler Hazel. I don’t know babies. But she’s walking and talking these days, and that’s going to be a delight to behold, I can already tell. Saga #19 is mostly spent getting us all up to speed with how things are and what the family unit has been up to for the past few months. They’re hunkered down on a safe planet, Hazel is growing up, Alana got a weird job, and everybody’s kind of getting on everybody else’s nerves – typical family stuff. So it’s a light, scene-setting issue that showcases Saga‘s usual level of enjoyable storytelling and character building.
Until a final page that will gut you.
Join me after the jump for a full synopsis and more review!
We open with the birth of a baby: Prince Robot IV’s baby, to be precise, though the Prince himself is still missing. And for some reason, they also call the baby Prince Robot IV? I don’t get it.
Shouldn’t he be Prince Robot V? The Princess is confident that her husband is still out there, somewhere.
This birth leads to Hazel giving a bit of backstory about the Robot Kingdom, which exists on a Dwarf Planet that orbits both Landfall and Wreath, but eventually allied with Landfall in the war effort. Hazel also hints that some of the lower class robots, like the janitors, aren’t very happy that they’re lower class. We’ll probably get more on that later.
Because right now, we get to check in with toddler Hazel!
Hazel explains that she and her family have been hiding on the planet Gardenia, a rather nice planet that has remained neutral in the war. On this particular day, Marko has taken Hazel out to a playground to get some fresh air. He has also dyed his hair blonde and wrapped his face in bandages as a disguise. Marko is visited by a cute, suburbanite alien woman who’s just trying to make small talk with an obviously uncomfortable Marko. She is a dance instructor, and invites Marko to bring Hazel by some time for lessons. She also reveals that she’s pro-Wreath.
Meanwhile, we check in with Alana, who got a job on the Open Circuit, acting in one of their superhero soap operas. We heard a bit about the Open Circuit from Heist in the last volume. It’s apparently this cheesy, soap opera where everybody dresses like superheroes but don’t act like superheroes. They perform live on a stage and viewers plug themselves into the audience remotely from home – which can lead to some problems.
But breaking character like that gets Alana fired. Heist’s ex-wife tries to stick up for her with their manager, but it gets neither of them anywhere. So Alana mentions that she’s taking care of a kid back home, and the manager lets her stay, though still isn’t very nice about it. Alana thanks her friend for sticking up for her.
Back home at the spaceship tree, we see that Klara and Izabel are still getting along swimmingly, and the family has a big, pet walrus/horse thingy. Klara bought the animal for its blubber, but then Hazel fell in love with it and gave it a name, so now it’s their pet. Alana arrives home and Klara reports that the hot water isn’t fixed because the repairman wants $900 for the job, which is money they don’t have. Then Alana gets even more aggravated when she finds out that Marko took their daughter out in public.
The two start arguing in the kitchen, like couples do, and they wake Hazel. The little one wanders in and asks if her mommy is mad…and then…and then…
Oh jeez. I’ll just post the last two pages.
How can Vaughn do this to us? My heart is in tatters! My soul is rent asunder! Marko and Alana are going to split up? Say it isn’t so!
Seriously, say it isn’t so! I’m not being melodramatic here. I turned the page, read that line and my heart sank. That’s worse news that someone dying! Marko and Alana are the heart of this comic. Their relationship, and it’s unique beauty, was the focus of the first three volumes. We saw how they met, how they fell in love and why they risked everything to be in love. I’ll admit it was rushed at times, and it was probably based more on pure passion than anything structurally sound. But Marko and Alana are special! They may as well be living, breathing people, that is how well Vaughn and Staples have brought them to life.
I’m sure Vaughn has an amazing story planned for their break up. And I’m sure it will make total sense. But man, that’s one of the most devastating comic book pages I’ve read in years.
Saga #19 was a fine ‘welcome back’ to the series we love so much. It gets us caught up on the important characters and plots, while leaving some fates still in question. We get a nice look into Marko and Alana’s domestic life, as sad, tragic and heart-warming as it may be. And we get a nice, healthy dose of Toddler Hazel! She’s going to be amazing, I can tell. Saga just keeps impressing me, issue after issue. And even though my heart is in pieces, I can’t wait to see what Vaughn has in store for us next.
It’s probably going to break my heart all over again.