By Zack Quaintance — Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa...we’re officially at the halfway mark of our Saga re-read project! For those who don’t know, this project sees us re-reading one issue of Saga each week from now through #54. The idea is that once we finish, the book will hopefully be back from it’s one-year (minimum) hiatus, and we can all just pick right back up with it, possessing as we will a better understanding of all that has come before.
You can find older installments of the Saga Re-Read project here. If you still want to get in on this, I think a little time and determination could catch you right up, enough to join us next week as we move past this halfway point, anyway. This week finds us in the middle of a story arc, with the family still separated and the creators (obviously) building toward a reunion eventually, though maybe later rather than sooner. The individual elements will tell the story better though, so let’s get moving!
Here it is, the official preview text for Saga #27, which was first released back on April 8, 2015. Kind of fun how these dates are ever so slowly catching up with us as we move forward in this thing, right? So yeah…
Oof. Now that doesn’t tell us much, does it? It’s a bit ominous, though as we’ll see later it gets more ominous, especially for the aforementioned poor Marko. Combine this little teaser text with the cover, and this was probably a pretty scary issue to open, although I think in this phase of the story I was maybe operating under the assumption our core characters were untouchable, which they largely were for many issues. Onward to the individual elements!
The Cover: This cover’s pretty good, and, really, could maybe stand as a movie poster if this arc were to be turned into a movie. I really like the rendition of Hazel’s face, looking pensive as she continues to grow toward a better awareness of her and her family’s situation. The other elements—Marko floating in space and the icy planet—don’t work quite so well for me, but I like the whole much better than parts, especially knowing as we do that Marko and Hazel have been untethered from each other. The little doll in the other corner of the page is slightly heartbreaking.
**WARNING: This issue’s first page is maybe not entirely safe for work.**
NSFW - The First Page: I wonder if they made a conscious choice to divide all of this arc’s first pages into panels, because here it is yet again, differing from the vast majority of the series. What is, however, familiar, is the salacious nature of what’s happening in the story: here we get a flashback of Marko and Alana having sex (fairly graphically) during her pregnancy. It’s obviously a flashback, given that Alana is not pregnant, and, perhaps, more consequentially, our central couple has been acrimoniously separated throughout this arc.
The Surface: That aforementioned flashback culminates with Marko confessing to Alana that he hit a woman he was with before, which really seems to cast what happened last arc with the groceries in an entirely different light...until Marko admits that it happened when he was seven years old and the girl was hurting his pet. Still, the point is made—Marko has and has long-had anger issues that can culminate in violence, even if his anger is mildly justified. Meanwhile, we get another flashback of Marko, fighting in the war. It’s all framed in the context of Marko spiraling back through past memories due to a bad batch of drugs, and it really makes for a more interesting story than it would have if we were just bouncing through the past because it was convenient for the author. Though it doesn’t leave all that much room for subtext.
The Subtext: There wasn’t that much subtext in this issue—sure, the first scene is hallucinatory, but the Alana vision comes out at one point and demands to know why Marko did what he did—but a lot of what the comic is doing is pretty clearly laid out for us. If there is subtly to this string of vignettes, it’s the overall effect of leaving us with a portrait of Marko’s anger as it has manifested through his life, complete with the (often justified) reasons he acted the way he did as well as with the subsequent regret. It’s a powerful issue, knowing what we know now about where this anger-regret cycle of actions ultimately take him. It’s almost as if this story is making a case against half measures, although I’d be shocked if that were ultimately the case.
The Art: More typically amazing linework here from Fiona Staples. What caught my attention more than anything was her work on the character of Ghus, who to this point has been pretty much entirely adorable. In this issue, though, Staples gives him range, and the effect is powerful in the plot and also pretty funny when you pull it out of context. Check out the panel below.
The Foreshadowing: Really, this entire issue could be considered foreshadowing in a certain light. Foreshadowing what? Well, Saga #54, and why it hurts so bad, of course. I’d mostly forgotten this exploration of the exact causes and effects of Marko’s anger issues, and if nothing else, I’m really glad this issue gave me a chance to re-visit. It really frames his character arc in a different light, maybe even helping me come to grips a bit better with what eventually happens. Phew, I’m getting worked up all over again, so I’ll end now...
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
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.