The sixth volume of "Saga" continues in issue #32, and -- having checked in with Hazel, Izabel, and Klara last month -- Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples turn their attention to Alana and Marko. What we get here is a nice balance of competence from our heroes and equally tough challenges from their foes.
It's important to have that give and take between the two sides. Make the antagonists too incompetent, and the story lacks any real drama; make them too strong, and it becomes either a lesson in futility or sets up an impossible-to-believe victory. It's refreshing to see Vaughan take the middle ground here. Alana and Marko have some good schemes and ideas to try and figure out where Hazel and Klara are, even as their plans are not as smoothly enacted as they'd want.
It's also a pleasure to see that the consequences of their break-up in the previous volume are still being felt. Marko's continued vow of non-violence means that some slightly more complicated solutions need to be made, even as Alana provides a reasonable counterpoint to Marko's beliefs. Neither side is portrayed as being absolute and right, and it's a nice give-and-take going on. We also get to see how some other supporting characters are doing, as this story arc starts shaping up as a way to touch base with the entire sprawling cast after the time jump. As a result, I suspect that there's a lot to happen before our favorite family is reunited, letting "Saga" live up to its name once again.
Staples' art is consistent as ever. I love the opening splash with the hostage scene; all of the little touches (the beard, the hoodie and sunglasses, the chic glasses and scarf) sets up the characters they're trying to portray, even as it gives the reader a sudden jolt as you try to figure out what the heck is going on. It's that attention to detail that continues throughout the book: elevator shafts look grimy; expensive offices look expensive; skeleton keys look beautifully ornate. Records rooms make my dust allergy kick up. Security forces look dangerous. With Staples having also drawn a run on the "Archie" reboot this year, it would have been reasonable to worry that the art in "Saga" might have slipped, but that's definitely not the case.
"Saga" #32 is another enjoyable chapter from a dependable book. Because of the nature of this story arc (catching up with everyone), each individual issue will probably have a smaller impact on its own, delivering a larger punch with a collected edition. Still, readers will get their money's worth here. "Saga" remains a fun series, month in and month out.