The current story arc of “Saga” started with its characters scattered throughout space, with their goals of rescue, vengeance and redemption all hung just out of reach. It’s all the more impressive, then, that in just five issues Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have managed to drag so many of them together. True to form, “Saga” #35 shows that timing is everything, and not all of these characters will succeed as they had hoped.
In this arc, Vaughan’s plotting felt a little scattershot at first, with the first few issues focusing on a single location and the characters stationed there; at the time, it felt like none of them would be meeting any time soon. It’s much to his credit that this isn’t the case, as Hazel’s rescue looms even as the Word tries to gain his revenge on Prince Robot IV. Even better, all of the characters get some proper panel time here. I actually went back through the issue to count pages to make sure it was just the title’s standard 22 pages of material, because it felt like a lot happened, even as it did so at a fast pace.
The best part of the writing isn’t all of the action, though; it’s when Marko makes a joke about how rescuing his mother is optional in Alana’s eyes, and her surprisingly romantic response. It’s a tiny bit cheesy in the way that couples often are around one another, and it helps punctuate the strength of the relationship between Alana and Marko after everything came apart earlier. If anything, it’s hard to not want to cheer just a tiny bit as Marko heads out of the ship after Alana’s ringing endorsement of her mother-in-law.
Staples continues to bring great looking art to the book, and she mixes the mundane and the fantastical with ease. The infectious invasion from the hivemines is nothing short of revolting even as it’s fascinating, taking parasites to a whole new level. When it comes to characters like Noreen, well, who knew a massive yellow praying mantis could look so sweet, with her big pink eyes and her hope that she can somehow save Hazel? Staples did, that’s for certain. Even something as relatively simple as Ghus’ moment on the final splash page looks wonderful, a great mix of drama with just a dash of visual humor. Every new issue is reason to celebrate thanks to Staples, and I’m relieved she’s been around for every installment of the series.
“Saga” #35 is a reminder not to take this book for granted; it’s consistently strong, and at times I think people might forget that as it moves from one selling point to the next. Where else can you get a generational saga spanning multiple star systems, where almost every single character’s motivation is fueled — at least in part — by love? “Saga” #35 is another keeper. I have no idea which characters will succeed and which characters will slide in just past the deadline next issue, but I’m already anxious to find out.