By Zack Quaintance & Cory Webber — Saga #7 is an issue that’s heavy on this book’s dual interests: family dynamics, and a state of infinite galactic war. For my money, it’s also the issue in which those two throughlines begin to seamlessly blend, as writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples seem to discover here the formula that best serves their story.
Look, for example, at the first five pages, an anecdotal lead that indoctrinates us to young Marko’s earliest experiences with the war. This little bit, short as it is, does wonders to indoctrinate readers to the effect prolonged generational hostilities have on society through the lives of one family, while simultaneously seeding the tense dynamic between Alana and her new in-laws. It’s work that hits that magic middle ground in comics, straddling the line between efficiency and entertainment.
But I digress...I can (and do) prattle on about storytelling craft and comic book structure all day. Let’s put a pin in all that and get on to the specifics of this issue of Saga!
Here’s the official preview text from way back when for Saga #7:
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' smash-hit ongoing series returns! An all-new adventure begins, as new parents Marko and Alana make an unexpected discovery in the vast emptiness of outer space.
So yeah, this is the start of the book’s second arc, likely following a roughly three-month break, the same sort Saga has taken since the series inception (until this recent one year minimum hiatus, the impetus for our reading project). There’s definitely, as I touched on above, a new sense of polish and focus to the comic now, so much so that one imagines Vaughan and Staples sitting down together before getting to work again so as to evaluate everything that worked and didn’t work, identifying along the way the direction they wanted the tone of the book to go.
A Re-Reader’s Perspective by Zack: This was just a fantastic issue of Saga, likely my favorite yet, with the way it runs the whole range of this series’ strengths. It’s all in this book: Hazel’s voice and narration, gross out visuals, unique new monster designs, soap opera twists, and family bonding that moves at breakneck speed from disastrous to awkward to heartrending. This is the first time since we’ve started I’ve been tempted to push right through and read the next issue. Great stuff.
A New Reader’s Perspective by Cory Webber: Saga #7 features a familiar family dynamic: disapproving in-laws (not that I speak from experience or anything). Herein, Vaughan introduces us to Marko’s parents, and we see similarities between the generational gaps that we experience in our own lives, namely attitudes toward war and how the younger generation doesn’t make much mind of it, or seem to respect it, since it’s been an ever-present part of their lives. I think this is one of the bigger appeals to Vaughan and Staples’ Saga, the parallels between their worlds and ours. Also, another hallmark of their work is their talent for injecting real, emotional drama, and we see it again in this issue by way of a startling confession. All this and I haven’t mentioned the splash page that will forever be burned into my retinas. Maybe I was avoiding it? At any rate, if you’ve read Saga #7, then you know what I’m talking about. If not, then you’ve been forewarned — keep the eye bleach handy!
Cory’s New Reader Predictions: Vaughan and Staples will find a way to replace the aforementioned image burned into my retinas with one that will be even grosser.
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.