Saga Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan
Art: Fiona Staples
Vaughan shifts the time many years ahead. It makes sense since he needs to jump-start the story in the future. Not to mention, grow Hazel. Here she becomes an even stronger narrator.
The trap of future jumping, which Vaughan falls into and makes this the weakest volume so far, is exposition. The old adage of writing is show, not tell. But when you jump years, you need to tell a bit more about what all these characters have been up to. This volume is heavy with exposition.
The part that didn’t work for me the most was the reunion and re-falling in love of Marko and Alana. Previously, she became a secret drug addict and he went looking for affection somewhere else other than their (I assume) monogamous relationship. We got a lot of exposition from Hazel, who despite her somewhat all-knowing narration, wouldn’t have deep details on the romance of her parents.
For me, Alana here has redeemed herself from the last two volumes. I love seeing her brave again. Her and Marko are pretty cute. Though their skills are very slick, and I wondered if it was a sequel to Leverage, which I wouldn’t complain about. They can join up with my two favorite queer journalists and Lying Cat.
But let’s talk about them now! I actually forgot that Upsher and Doff exist for a while, and even said (in my head), “Saga is so diverse, except are there gay people? Oh, there they are!”
There were two major times, while reading Saga, I got jerked out of the narration and yelled “Vaughan is a straight white man!” Upsher and Doff many, many times reference how on their planet queer people aren’t accepted. They even go so far to start comparing their renegade love to Marko and Alana’s; albeit they both admit that warring governments don’t want them dead because of it, even if their home planet is full of homophobes. It falls too close to the timeless trope of gay being the “love that dare not speak its name” and some pain Olympics. Not to mention, I have a hard time remembering which one is which one, and frankly, it’s because they don’t have great characterization beyond, they’re gay and they’re ambitious journalists. Vaughan gives such great layers to the rest of his characters that it’s a disappointment here. It didn’t help that all the parts with The Will were boring.
The second time, I actually snapped the book shut on my commute and put it in my bag for the rest of the day. In the scene where Alana and Marko come to recruit Prince Robot IV, the adults frame Hazel as a girl in need of chivalrous request, and of course, Prince Robot IV has been training his son, named Squire, to have these values. Ghüs, Squire, and Alana have the following exchange:
Ghüs: “But what’s more chivalrier than rescuin’ a fair maiden?”
Squire: “Your girl’s a for-real fair maiden?”
Alana: “Oh, definitely. The fairest in all the lands.”
WTF, Vaughan? You know that “fair” literally means “white.” Hazel is not white, nor is Alana, and Saga‘s gotten all these kudos for being so diverse, especially with Alana. Who would never call her daughter “fair” in this manner. I wouldn’t have even cared if she didn’t call Squire out on it, but this would’ve been a good time for a joke or adults talking to each other or something. But since this was played so straight-laced, I’m assuming Vaughan had no idea. He should really read Princeless.
One last complaint before I say some nice things, more Lying Cat please.
Staples’ art remains top-notch. She’s a master at movement, especially around body language and facial expressions. The moment when Marko and Hazel are reunited and Hazel’s face fills with delight at the recognition of her father was so sweet and wonderful.
While I wasn’t happy with other representation-related issues, Petrichor was done surprisingly well. Hazel being the one to ask her questions about her body was great because children don’t judge or hate, they are just curious. It worked well in contrast of Hazel hiding a secret about her own body: her wings. Klara not being a fan of Petrichor added to the tension of the prison life. Also raised some interesting questions about their culture. (Though if I was going to be a soldier, being able to easily pee standing up would be A+ on a battlefield.) I’m looking forward to learning more about Petrichor and what she’s about in the next volume.
In conclusion: more Lying Cat needed.
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