“Saga” is back and all is right with the comics world again. For new readers of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ “Saga,” which racked up a slew of Eisners while it was on hiatus, Image Comics has made it incredibly easy to jump into the story — just pick up the first two trades and you’re fully caught up.
“Saga” 13 finds our heroes spread out across the galaxy recovering from emotional trauma and how one handles death in all its variations. Marko is living in a depressive haze, still reeling from his father’s death while the women in his life, most notably his mother, take a more aggressive and potentially proactive approach to healing in the form of “moving on” which includes dragging Marko along. Elsewhere in the book, The Will hallucinates (or does he?) his former lover The Stalk, who gives him a stern talking to about how to live his life (and stay alive), goading him into moving on physically, if not emotionally, with Gwendolyn. Also, Slave Girl finally gets a name. Thank the heavens!
In truth, it’s all terribly mundane. Why is it so good? Vaughan and Staples have done such a fantastic job with these characters that it’s impossible not to ache for them as they grieve. They feel like living breathing friends and acquaintances, making all of their pain palpable — but this wouldn’t be “Saga” if it didn’t also come with action and laughs, and the issue has all of that too (the poke at the writer is priceless). The series’ effortless world building also returns, allowing readers to get a peek at some new characters, and some of the d-listers in Marko and Alana’s (er, Hazel’s) story.
The artistic rock that is Fiona Staples delivers another gorgeous issue, even if there’s a bit less for her to do here than usual. There are a couple new wild characters for her to create, some planet landscapes to dream up, a cute baby to draw and writers to humiliate, but that’s all just another day at the office for Staples. While the one action scene in this issue is solid, as they always are, what’s more important and what Staples delivers are the emotions: Marko’s face on the verge of giving up; Kiara’s face, determined to gut it out; Alana, so tired of being woken up; The Will, shocked to see the dead apparently alive; and the aforementioned d-lister, kind of infuriated to be a d-lister. It’s all so very delicious.
“Saga” remains, now 13 issues in, easily one of the best ongoing comics around. Vaughan and Staples have created a world that positively seethes with vitality and creativity. Like the best comic books, just when you think they’ve pushed as far as they can push, they break through and push to even greater heights. At this point it’s impossible to even guess at what awaits readers in this new arc, but suffice to say, I expect continued greatness.