By Zack Quaintance — Hey hey, we’re back! Apologies folks, but we’ve missed a couple weeks of recaps, nearly an entire month, as things would have it. There are a few good reasons, though! Namely that the ongoing Saga hiatus looks to extend through at least October now, which takes away any need for urgency, and secondly that I’ve been busy working with contributors to get more perspectives and more content.
It feels good to return to these old features though, the ones I write entirely by myself, and it feels good to get right back into this story with Saga #47. This is, quite simply, an excellent comic book. There are 46 chapters in this story now, but I’m still dying to learn more about the characters’ back stories, which is a very good sign. In addition to this being a flashback into The Will’s mysterious past, we also get a good and really scary new villain as a threat to give it urgency. It’s this type of untouchable storytelling that makes Saga so damn good.
Enough gushing...let’s take a look at the issue!
Here it is, the official preview text for Saga #47, which was first released back on Sept. 27, 2017, juuuuust more than two years ago. We may not be as young and attractive as we all were back then, but these days we sure are wise. And now, the text!
Meet Ianthe, who has very big plans for The Will.
Hey now, that’s downright descriptive! It even unveils a piece of info about the story, namely the cover characters name. Wow wow wow. Enough astonishment, on to the individual elements!
The Cover: This is a good cover, playing to Saga’s design strengths with how it blends the familiar with the absurd and the sci-fi. I also like the vague fantasy bend in this piece.
The First Page: This is a classic Saga first page, featuring both universality — a young boy (The Will) sitting cross-legged and watching TV in a fairly typical sort of suburban TV room, with a dose of sci-fi futurism in the television that is actually some kind of floating bubble. The art here is wonderful, with Staples somehow making The Will recognizable without any of his costume (although the guy getting punched bears a resemblance) or other trademarks. Great work all around here.
The Summary: Young The Will is alarmed in the first page, and soon we find out why: his dad is in the yard hitting his sister with a stick as she cries for help. The beating is stopped by The Will’s uncle Steve, who is far more debonaire than his father, wearing a suit and traveling with a giant lizard. We learn he is a freelancer called The Letter, which leaves us to surmise it is this man who was The Will’s preferred father figure. Then we learn The Letter is The Will’s mother’s brother, The Will’s mother is a drunk, and The Letter is here to take the kids to where she lives now, newly sober. As the scene ends, The Letter tells The Will’s dad that The Will’s sister sent him a letter “about what you get up to in that cabin of yours,” and The Letter murders The Will’s dad with an axe, splattering blood across the young boy’s cheeks.
Turns out The Will, modern day edition, is actually a prisoner, though, and his captor is torturing him by having him hung from the ceiling with AV cords plugged into his head so he can play his memories on TV. We learn that said captor, whose name is Ianthe, has murdered The Will’s dog (off panel, thank god) and is planning to decapitate The Will for revenge. “...you murdered the man I was going to marry, you fat #$^*.” Before the murder, Ianthe wants The Will to watch all his loved ones get murdered first. We learn that Ianthe is a diplomat, and she can murder all kinds of stuff while clamining immunity to avoid prosecution, including civilians. We move onto more The Will memories, including his days with his lover, The Stalk. We are reminded here that The Will murders in cold blood, even if he hasn’t been so threatening lately.
Ianthe shows her face—she’s some sort of alien anteater (not farm!)—and tells The Will that her beloved was Hektor, whose face The Will cut in half. The Will doesn’t remember. Apparently, that happened during The Will’s massacre to free Sophie on Sextillion. Hektor was a private security consultant at work there. Next we get a sexually-charged scene of The Will and Lying Cat coming across Gwendolyn as she baths. It’s in this scene that Ianthe learns of Hazel’s existence, and, being an opportunist, keys in on that. Ianthe’s spaceship, by the way, is a giant cosmic jellyfish with a Beverly Hills-style mansion encased by a pyramid atop its head.
And we’re out!
The Subtext: There’s not too much of it here. It’s a pretty straightforward and really fast issue entirely about The Will. It does, however, in one fell swoop both move our plot forward quite a bit (bringing a fearsome new foe and old chewed up one speeding toward our heroes) while filling in blanks about The Will’s past and his current priorities. So, it’s a great read in that way. There’s also a theme of violence begets violence begets violence at work here, and Ianthe being up to really murder it up without fear of consequences due to being an ambassador speaks to the ongoing commentary about the bureaucratic evils possible during a forever war.
The Art: I thought Staples was absolutely on her A game in every way in this issue, a trend I seem to remember carrying through until the hiatus. But in this story, we get both her knack for amazing design work and her ability to draw distinct and emotive faces. The issue speeds right by, but a lot of her artwork still lingers.
The Foreshadowing: I mean, there wasn’t much to speak of, aside from Ianthe vowing she would kill everyone The Will loves and then speeding off toward our heroes. That, however, will soon prove to be a misdirect rather than actual foreshadowing.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
The Saga Re-Read is back from a hiatus of its own, but also reserves the right to take another one.
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 BatmansBookcase.