Review: “Saga #10”

Saga_10Saga is one of the best comics on the shelf today, if not the outright best. Brian K. Vaughn has crafted one of the most unflinchingly original stories I’ve ever read, blending fantasy and space opera with an uncommon confidence and self-assured sense of direction that I wonder how this story has never happened before. Everything about it feels incredibly natural and fitting: not once have I had a moment where I felt something was shoved into the story. By contrast, nearly every new plot development leaves me saying “Well of course, it had to be that,” despite not having seen the development coming. Vaughn’s pen is powerful and creative, and the story he weaves is like no other.

Meanwhile, Fiona Staples has been knocking it out of the park with her tremendous art. The covers alone are gorgeous, but the work between them is what is truly spectacular. Everything has a hand-painted look (despite Staples’ commitment to digital art), with vibrant, clean coloring that shines even in intimate, dialogue-drive scenes. Staples is never content to let Vaughn’s pen carry the weight, and she nails the faces of characters, all of which have remarkable ranges of expression. The look and style is rather consistent with cel-shaded animation, actually, and it works really well for the cinematic story being told here.

Saga #10 picks up in the midst of Marko and his mother’s trip to the surface of the egg that their ship had passed near in an attempt to find Hazel’s ghostly babysitter, Izabel. Before we rejoin them, however, we’re treated to a short flashback sequence that sheds light on Marko’s escape from captivity, aided by Alana. It’s a cute, awkward scene in which the two share a secret book club, with Alana reading a book aloud as Marko attempts to appear as if he’s working like the rest of the prisoners. When Marko shares that he’s being transferred, Alana shoots through his chain, freeing him and allowing him to run away. Neither of them planned this well, however, and their escape is fitfully awkward and silly. Hazel narrates the scene perfectly: “Dad always had a way with the ladies.”

This is a great representation of the issue as a whole: there’s an honesty in character relationships at the center of this issue that is uncommon in most stories. Marko and Alana never really think things through fully. Marko and his mother have a bickering exterior that masks the genuine love for each other underneath it all. Marko’s father is a gentler man inside and actually cares deeply for Alana despite their racial divide. It’s an issue packed to the brim with wonderful character moments within Marko’s family – and that’s not to even mention the significant action going on in the issue.

The last panel is one that will tug at the heartstrings, despite being only ten issues in. Let me repeat that: ten issues in, Vaughn will already make you really sad. That’s some fast work for comics.

If this issue has a problem – and I’m not saying it necessarily does – but IF it does, it’s the lack of any mention of Prince Robot IV. He’s pursuing our intrepid fugitives, and if Vaughn and Staples are to keep up a serialized story of this nature they ought to keep tabs on all their characters. That said, when there’s so much wonderful character work going on, I can’t complain that a solitary character’s whereabouts weren’t discussed.

Saga #10 is a near perfect addition to the series, and one that all comic book readers should be thrilled to pick up.

Verdict: A

[Saga | Issue 10 | Written by Brian K. Vaughn | Art by Fiona Staples | Letters + Design by Fonografiks]

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