Saga Vol. 1 gave me a unique world with familiar systems: birth, war, hierarchical power, love. It gave me Alana and Marko, the central forbidden lovers, and their new daughter, Hazel, either an abomination or the ultimate symbol of hope and peace, or both. It gave me a tree spaceship! And honestly, if Saga gives me nothing else, that gift will be enough to keep a smile coming back to my face in fond recollection.
So what does volume 2 give? Surprises. Wonderful, expectation over-turning ironies that repeatedly made me grin with the novelty and then again with the recognition that I was wrong about this book. Wrong in the best way–everything I expect from other versions of the tropes played with in this book is turned askew.
Volume 1 leaves off with Izabel being banished by the unexpected appearance of Marko’s parents, Klara and Barr, who were drawn here by the magical connection of the family and Marko’s sword, broken in sacrifice to get the ship to help them escape off planet. Volume 2 picks up with a flashback to Marko’s childhood, when an idyllic romp with his pet dog is interrupted by a history lesson his mother imparts about the war that has terrorized their people. This is just the first of a handful backstory elements this volume imparts. Also included are how Alana and Marko met and fell in love.
But Hazel’s nanny must be found, and Marko and Klara use the teleporting helmets Klara and Barr used to get to the ship to go to the nearest planetoid where Klara’s spell sent Izabel. These two have run-ins with the locals, all quite spicy, and then deal with a conflict from the planet itself. Meanwhile Alana is embarrassingly left in nothing but a towel, holding the baby, and sizing up father-in-law Barr. Barr has an agenda while Marko and Klara are away, and he’s not going to let Alana stand in his way.
Oh, and meanwhile The Will deals with the death of his former girlfriend and co-worker, The Stalk, sets his mind on freeing the slave girl on Sextillion and meets an old friend of Marko’s.
I love these characters. All of them. The protagonists and antagonists both. The little nobodies that show up for a visual joke or passing encounter. After a scant few panels I can fall in love with a character and a few panels later they’re gone, in sometimes shocking ways.
I already mentioned how much I love the ironic twists in the story, but I also love the structure of the storytelling. Hazel’s narration jumps in time to give important details to emotionally shape a contemporary event. But there’s clearly also a metafictional level to the story developing through the textual excerpts of Alana’s favorite novel, which likely primed her to be open to the attraction to Marko. I’m excited to see how that develops further in the next volume.
The art continues to be beautiful, though also gruesome when the story calls for it. It is definitely influencing my love for these characters through the expressiveness of faces. And the art design of costumes and settings appeals in that sci-fi world-building way.
I am all the more convinced that few comic series are greater than Saga in either storytelling or fun.