Saga Vol 8 by Brian K. Vaughan
Art: Fiona Staples
The last volume of Saga left me feeling incredibly emotionally manipulated into buying into the story again. This one too. While the last one dealt with themes around war, innocence, and bystander casualties, this deals with the same type of pain — only instead of conflict-related, domestically-related.
(Though I suppose that Marko does blame his own actions of murder for the death of their son, so we could put this in the war pile. Alana wouldn’t have fallen in that manner had they not been trying to escape a planet-destroying, war-related weapon.)
On the other hand, stories about miscarriages — given how common they are — are too few and far between. And they are certainly not in fantasy, space comic books. So I do applaud Vaughan and Staples on this.
It was harrowing to see Alana being turned down for help in terminating her pregnancy and removing a dead baby from her body. She shouldn’t have had to go to an abortion planet. A relative of mine carried a stillborn child to “term,” and I can’t even imagine that kind of horror ever since she told that story to me.
The kind of ethical loops people go through to justify being anti-abortion when they fight all kinds of wars where many children die baffle me.
Giving Alana temporary magical powers was interesting. Marko does seem to need to get over his fear of using magic and teach his daughter what she needs to know.
I did think it was a little too sappy that Vaughan dropped hints that Marko and Alana would have another baby to give Hazel the sibling she desires. (Even if, yes, it’s pointedly stated that Squire fills this brotherly role.)
Staples’ art continues to hit it out of the park. Since it’s the cover, I want to talk about how much I love the rainbow striped zebra. It’s like the gum from the 1980s brought to life. I approve. Though I am unsure how this zebra would camouflage itself in the desert. Which is what zebra stripes are all about.
I also thought the way Staples drew the werewolf abortion doctor was just excellent. She added an unexpected layer of horror to the book. Especially with the blood on doctor’s hands and her mentioning not to worry that she’d fed her pups and they were asleep. Which was an added contrast of adorability to see Hazel and her magical brother hanging out with the sleeping pups.
It was a little odd not to see anything of Marko and Alana post-operation. At least to see them reconciling the full loss of their child together as a united front. For all his flaws, Marko did the right thing in his support of Alana through this.
In other news, I do not care about The Will. He should’ve been dead long ago. I’m not even warmed by the story of how he just wanted to rescue himself and his sister from their abusive father.
On the list of other people who should be dead is Prince Robot IV. You can’t tell me that he won’t fetishize Petrichor.
In other emotional manipulations, Ghus got way too close to having to kill Friendo. I don’t understand why they don’t have a garden or something more sustainable to eat.
I loved how Alana’s stomach in those crop tops does look like someone who’s been pregnant and carried children to term. Well done, Staples. I also enjoyed a more grown up Hazel. Ghus and Marko hugging is the best.
Staples’ art continues to be the highlight of Saga for me.