By Zack Quaintance & Cory Webber — One of the reasons that I’ve wanted to re-read Saga for some time now is that I can’t quite keep clear in my head where all the various side characters are and what happened to their stories. Having that agenda, this was a great issue to re-read, focused as it is entirely on The Will, Gwendolyn, Slave Girl, and Lying Cat. In fact, we don’t see any of our central family at all here, not even for a panel. It makes me wonder how many other issues like this we have in store.
Anyway, we’re now well into the book’s second proper arc as we enter the third month of our 54-week Saga reading project. The world is steadily expanding, as is the visual scope of Fiona Staples artwork and the size of the cast. I was probably most struck here by the sheer genius of Lying Cat as a concept, both as a franchise mascot of sorts (one that can really sell Funkos and plush toys) and as a device to reveal character and drive plot. Saga is an emotionally-complex story and having a walking lie detector to point out when a character is being disingenuous is so useful for cluing us in on priorities and aspirations, especially in the graphic sequential medium where we don’t always have easy access to thoughts and other signs of personal interiority.
So yeah, this just in: I love Lying Cat. But let’s move on now to our thoughts on this issue proper!
Here’s the official preview text from way back when for Saga #9, which originally came out on Jan. 16, 2013:
The Will finally has a good day.
Well, that’s certainly the case, although I suppose good days are relative. The Will is an interesting character to me in that he’s a sort of Boba Fett-esque cliched tough guy bounty hunter...who is unlucky in love and basically everything else. This guy—from his clothes to his mopey faces to the way he lives alone with a giant blue cat—is almost a walking manifestation of depression. It’s an interesting contrast, and one that gets explored further in this issue.
A Re-Reader’s Perspective by Zack: I feel like most of my intro this week has been heavy with my re-reader’s perspective, but onward all the same. Upon this second time through, another thing that strikes me about this issue is where it’s placed in the arc. It’s not a frivolous or irreverent issue (this is, you’ll remember, Saga after all), but it does kind of break up the emotional deep dive we’ve been doing into Marko and Alana’s now-entwined romantic pasts, plus all the stuff with the in-laws. These characters are well developed, to be sure, but an issue focusing entirely on them sort of pauses the intense emotional stakes and reminds us exterior threats are looming. Plus, that cover? Yowzers.
A New Reader’s Perspective by Cory Webber: I think that the fact that Saga can focus solely on side characters is a testament to strong world building and also to the well-developed characters that Vaughn and Staples have created. Getting to know all of these people is a pleasure, regularly filled with surprises. Gwendolyn, for example, seemed to me like a badass warrior on the last page of Saga #8, but we find out here that she’s actually a badass bureaucrat, more capable with a phone call than with a sword or a gun. I really like that all these characters have layers, which I think is one of Saga’s greatest strengths. Speaking of strengths, I am absolutely loving the humanity and emotion Staples is able to get across with her artwork, especially in her facial expressions. This issue just did so much to flesh out more of Saga’s cast, and, by extension its world, showing us why The Will is such a feared freelancer and ultimately giving us a new group to follow: the interesting trio comprised of The Will, Gwendolyn and Slave Girl.
Cory’s New Reader Predictions: Lying Cat will become my favorite side character ever created.
Cory Webber is a work-from-home entrepreneur who also reads and reviews comics for fun. Find him on Twitter at @CeeEssWebber. He lives in Lehi, Utah with his wife and three sons.
Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.