Review: Saga #27
Now this is more like it! For the past several issues, Saga has been largely fine. It has never stopped being an enjoyable and entertaining comic, full of great characters, interesting twists and more emotional depth than 10 comics. But it’s also just kind of been…’business as usual’? Is that a good way to put it? I honestly don’t know, because I don’t know what I’m whining about. All I know is that Saga #27 is one of the richest, most enjoyable issues we’ve had in a good long while.
Writer Brian K. Vaughn focuses on just one of his many ongoing plots with this issue, and the attention to detail and to the characters raises this issue to great heights. Prince Robot IV and Ghus the Seal Boy just because the breakout stars of this volume.
Comic Review: 9/10 – Great.
Granted, Ghus has always been pretty amazing, but up until this issue, I always kind of viewed him as a tagalong. He had a great introduction back in the day, but he just seemed like a cute side character thrown in for fun. But with Marko overdosing on crazy space drugs, Ghus steps up in several big ways while he and Robot try and figure out how to save our horn-headed hero.
I’ve said in the past that I don’t really care for drug sequences in fiction. They’re just not my thing. Fortunately, Vaughn and artist Fiona Staples instead take Marko on a series of flashbacks, as if his life was flashing before his eyes. Not only do we learn a bit more about Marko’s troubled past, but these sequences also help to clarify and focus the character going forward. His marriage was falling apart, his family has been kidnapped to parts unknown, and Marko himself has been an emotional wreck. But all of that is settled now, and what comes next should be pure Saga bliss.
As if we should expect anything else.
Join me after the jump for the full synopsis and more review!
We open with a flashback to Marko and Alana having sex, because that’s how Saga rolls. Alana is pregnant with Hazel, so the two of them have to use a less-missionary style position. Alana also wants Marko to get a little rough with her, maybe spank that ass a little. But Marko panics and pulls back, too scared about himself to deliver the desired spanking.
Alana tells her husband that she just wants to feel sexy again, and Marko tells her that she’s the most beautiful she’s ever been, but he’s just not comfortable with hitting her in any capacity.
Marko tells Alana about this time when he was 7 and he beat up a neighbor girl. She was attacking Marko’s dog at the time, so he really let her have it. When his father found out, Barr was beyond furious, and his anger still haunts Marko to this very day.
Flashback Alana then starts transforming into a monster, taunting Marko for striking his wife the last time they saw each other. This isn’t a flashback, it’s a drug-induced nightmare, and the monster Alana morphs into a monster version of Hazel’s doll, with a bloody Barr bursting out of her pregnant belly. It’s one heck of a nightmare.
While the rest of the comic is a dream come true.
On the ship, Prince Robot IV and Ghus try to figure out what to do with the drugged out Marko and Yuma. Clearly something is wrong and this isn’t a normal batch of drugs. Prince Robot wants to just chuck both of them out of the airlock, but Ghus reminds him that they need Marko to help take on Dengo the Crazy Janitor so that they can rescue everybody.
Robot grabs Ghus by the neck and lifts the little guy off the ground, demanding why they need Marko for anything. Ghus explains that he isn’t afraid of Robot, but Marko scares the life out of him.
Back in flashback land, we visit with Marko during the war, when he and his soldiers were fighting off a fleet of Landfall ships. Marko is ordered to clear them a retreat, so he grabs a mystical bazooka and blasts an incoming ship.
Except that it wasn’t an enemy ship at all, it was a civilian car that was randomly in a war zone for some reason? Whatever the case may be, Marko didn’t take down an enemy, he blew up a father behind the wheel, with the man’s son in the passenger seat, forced to sit there and cry over the grisly remains of his father’s body.
The flashbacks then start a rapid montage as we see Marko killing other people during the war, perhaps even stabbing a sword into Prince Robot IV himself! But there’s only a single panel, so we don’t know for sure. We also see panels of Marko and Gwen making love, of Marko getting his sword, of Marking learning magic and reading comics as he gets younger and younger in the montage.
Back on the ship, Robot calls his kingdom’s surgeon general for advice on how to save Marko and Yuma. The doctor is initially convinced that Prince Robot has done something to himself, and the conversation is actually quite funny. Robot finally gets through to him, and the doctor explains that Robot needs to purge their bodies of the drug.
Saga hasn’t been this much fun in a long time. I’ve missed it.
We then flash back to the time Marko beat up that neighbor girl. She and her mother come over, and Barr apologizes profusely for his son’s actions. The flashbacks are all in Wreath language (which I think someone said was Portuguese?), so I don’t know what they’re saying, but we don’t need words. We see Barr take off his belt and start whipping Marko for what he did to the neighbor girl.
And as Marko cries out with each whip, the flashbacks are intercut with visions of Marko surrendering during the war, to when he met Alana and she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever met, and to visions of Hazel playing with her doll.
Marko wakes up on the ship alive and well. Robot and Ghus were able to treat him and Yuma, and she’s up on her feet now. Marko sits up in bed and she apologizes for giving him a bad batch of drugs. Marko had only wanted to try the Fadeaway, but they both got stuck in some pretty insane hallucinations. But Marko tells her not to apologize. Those flashback hallucinations were exactly what he needed.
Marko tells Yuma that he finally understands his wife and why, even though he loved her unconditionally, she still wanted to feel sexy while they were making love. He also tells Yuma that he knows who he is and what he needs to do.
He needs to track down the man who kidnapped his family and slice his head off.
In the grand scheme of things, this issue didn’t accomplish too much — unless the subtext has flown completely over my head, which I’ll admit is a possibility. But for me, this issue gave us a few new minor insights into Marko’s life and helped to clear up his head a little after the troubles of the last volume. He’s back on the straight and narrow, determined to save his family — even though we already know he won’t find them for a few years, which is still heart-breaking. This issue cleared Marko’s head and underlined him as a character, which is always important, but doesn’t exactly move the saga along.
What this issue does instead is provide one entertaining reading experience. Vaughn was in fine form this issue, launching Prince Robot IV and Ghus the Seal Boy into a whole new level of awesome. Not only are they hilarious together, bickering back and forth, but their comedy is unstoppable as they try to save a couple of drugged out companions. That phone call with the robot surgeon general was hilarious, and the scene with Ghus and his ax is a standout for the entire series.
Saga #27 is a character-focused issue, and while it does a lot to help define the series lead, it does even more to entertain and delight with the supporting cast.