By Zack Quaintance — Of all the comics I read (and I read a lot of comics), Saga is potentially the one that feels the most immersive, the most real, the most relatable. I attribute this to the depth writer Brian K. Vaughan has given not just to his characters but to the relationships that bind them. It’s one thing to give us establishing details about individuals, but what Vaughan actively engages in here are flashbacks and other touches that let us know not only how characters feel and act toward each other, but also why.
In the second arc, which started in Saga #7, this has meant dual flashbacks exploring Marko’s relationship with his parents as well as the roots of the romance between Marko and Alana. It’s a great choice, one that subtly nudges readers to make connections between the two, and that’s really what I think Saga #11 is all about—exploring how Marko’s father’s life has informed his own, with a touch of foreshadowing thrown in, too. More on all that below.
So then, let’s check it out!
Here’s the official preview text for Saga #11, first released on March 20, 2013:
It's an intergalactic family reunion, as Hazel's parents and grandparents join forces to escape a dying world.
This issue is nothing if not all of that. Let’s get right to the individual elements that make it so...
The Cover: A beautiful cover, one that captures both who Marko’s father Barr was and the story development awaiting him within these pages. As readers, we didn’t get much time with Marko’s father, but the time we did get with him was certainly telling. Indeed, it gave us insight into both Marko’s gentler side, the one aspiring to never use violence again, and into the romantic dynamic that exists between Marko’s parents, which even armchair psychologists like myself realize heavily informs his approach to romantic relationships in his life. Anyway, if this cover is meant to be a memorial, it’s a beautiful and fitting.
The First Page: Yowzer, this is a classic Saga first page, sporting as it does maybe the most graphic depiction of intercourse in the book, although this is Saga, so I could of course be wrong. Sex on its own doesn’t necessarily merit discussion, especially in a book about relationships. What makes this first page provocative is that the next page immediately reminds us our story is being told by Marko and Alana’s daughter. Yeah yeah, so my mom and dad used to have sex, Hazel says, What? Like your parents just willed you into existence? And we’re off!
The Surface: This issue continues the second arc’s pattern of using flashbacks to flesh out (heh) Marko and Alana’s love story before advancing the plot in the later acts. The key development here is the sacrifice Marko’s father Barr makes to save his son and his young family. SPOILERS. A different sort of sacrifice is to come later for Marko, under very different circumstances, but after re-reading this issue I feel a little bit better about all of that, knowing that Marko is likely at peace with what happened, being his father’s son as much as he seems to be.
The Subtext: This is the second straight issue where the plot on the page is a little light on deeper meaning. There is, perhaps, an undercurrent of sacrificing for those you love running through here, as Marko’s father gives his life to fuel their escape, while The Will risks his to reel in Lying Cat from the depths of space. It’s all pretty overt, though, which doesn’t make it any less dramatic but does make it perhaps a little less apt to fit into this section.
The Art: There’s not really any new ground nor designs for Staples work to cover in this one, although she is tasked with a pretty wide range of scenes. In this issue, she’s asked to depict coitus, an intensely romantic conversation driven by facial expressions, and a man flying through space to save his floating gigantic blue cat, among other things. And she nails it all. Great versatility.
Check out past installments of our Saga Re-Read.
Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.