The Saga Re-Read: Saga #48 is a sweet and simple story that sets the stage for tragedy

Saga #48 was first released on Oct. 25, 2017.

By Zack Quaintance — I didn’t really notice this at the time I was first reading these issues, but this arc that starts on the abortion planet actually ends with a pair of atypical Saga issues that focus on fleshing out the backstories and current mind-states of a couple of periphery characters, namely The Will and Squire. 

In the larger context of the series, it now seems like a bit of stalling before the creative team had to do the deeply unpleasant business of the most recent arc, which is what the book had been building to from its start. I really enjoyed revisiting both of these issues, especially this one, in which Squire asserts himself as one of the most relatable figures in this whole story of family struggle and forever war. It was nice.

Here we go...

Saga #48

Here it is, the official preview text for Saga #48, which first hit comic shops way back on October 25, 2017. We’re within striking distance of the hiatus’ start now (less than year), which means I should maybe stop saying “way back” as of next week. Stay tuned to see if I actually do that...

END OF STORY ARC...Ghüs and Squire have an adventure.

This has been a bit of a disjointed story arc, in that rather than intermingling storylines and building toward a climax for all the characters at once, we sort of got the main story (Marko, Alana, Hazel, Robot, etc.) and are now checking in with the periphery folks. I think it’s been great, but it did cause me just now to go, wait, I thought a new arc had just started? But let’s get to the actual book….

The Cover: All the best Saga covers are Ghus Saga covers. Not really (there are, of course, the Prince Robot IV covers), but close. In the grand scheme of Ghus covers, this isn’t quite as strong as the one with the sunset reflecting in the water, but the pairing of adorable Ghus with walking-satire Robot is an interesting one. Extra points here too for tying into the plot!

The First Page: Regular readers of this re-read (oof, write much?) will know that I’m a big fan of the first place Saga splashes. This one is a different kind of shock than they usually hit us with to open things up. But that’s kind of the beauty of it. It goes in a different way that also feels at home with the first page hooks from the past. In this one, the journalist Upsher says “I’m sorry you had to see this…” while wielding a crude shiv over Ghus’ giant walrus thing. It’s great.

The Summary: The issue opens with Ghus stopping Upsher from killing his walrus thing for food (presumably an empty and desperate threat anyway, given what we know about our friend Upsher). Apparently, this little group (which also includes Doff and Robot IV’s kid) have been waiting for months for Marko and Alana to return with a rocket filled with food. Things have gotten bad, to the point Doff is maybe dying. Apparently, though, there is big game on this planet, big invisible game that only Robot IV’s kid can see. It’s called the Dread Naught, and Ghus and Squire (Robot IV’s kid) head off to hunt it.

The hunt is on. While hunting, Ghus and Squire have a difficult talk in which Ghus asks about his father’s bloody past. It’s tough, and, of course, yet another reminder of the toll everyone must pay for this forever toll, in one way or another. Brian K. Vaughan’s writing here is stupendous. The dialogue really shines as poor Squire coming to grips with the nature of the bloody world he inhabits is excellently bounced off Ghus’ simple-yet-wise matter-of-fact cornball view of the world. It’s really well done. 

They, of course, eventually encounter their prey. Squire has a chance to kill it, but he is too empathetic to do so. And it’s actually fine! Because that shooting star they saw was actually the others returning...with food! We get a reunion between Prince Robot IV and Squire. Hazel and Squire meet for the first time, which is fun too. It ends on a touching note (one of the last we get between now and the hiatus, if I remember correctly), with them running off hand and hand to play as Hazel’s narration says, “And that boy will become my brother.” Annnnd, I’m tearing up once again (I really do love this comic). 

The Subtext: There’s a lot going on in the conversation between Squire and Ghus, where the son starts to reckon with the sins of his father. Squire is, put simply, a sweet boy who does not have the taste for warfare his father once did. Although, really, Prince Robot IV’s ambivalence about warfare of late may be the seed that has planted this in Squire. He also struggles with the implications of his family’s new exile. It’s sad, a bit, but it’s also written in a way that makes you hopeful Squire’s empathy and compassion can make him a better man in worse circumstances than his father was, which, hell, how many of us can relate to than in 2019?

The Art: Ghus and Squire hunting in the dark woods at night gives Fiona Staples a chance here to do some wonderful things with the glow from the latter’s face for lighting. So, that’s really cool. There’s a shooting star and other really understated art that is absolutely gorgeous. 

The Foreshadowing: Mercifully, we don’t get too much foreshadowing about what’s to come next. The Will is mentioned, but most of the foreshadowing here is sweet, having to do with the bond that Hazel and Squire will eventually form, which I think we haven’t seen the extent of just yet. Given what happened in Saga #54, it seems like the two will soon become much closer.

Saga #48
Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Letterer: Fonografiks
Publisher: Image Comics

The Saga Re-Read is ready for the darkness to come in the next arc…as ready as one can be.

Check out previous installments of the 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 Comics Bookcase.