by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, 2013
I was happy to find that things start to pick up a bit in the second volume of Saga (review of Volume 1 here). Marko’s parents, Barr and Klara, have arrived on board their tree-house rocket ship and lend their hands fighting evil monsters and taking care of baby Hazel. We catch up with The Will, a freelance bounty hunter on the search for the lawless couple, having escaped from planet Sextillion where he rescued a slave girl from her purple-skinned, jagged-toothed madame. And a new partner joins their rank, one with a far more personal stake in capturing the interplanetary lovers than most.
Most significantly, we get a bit of backstory on Alana and Marko’s courtship. We see Alana stand guard while Marko toils in physical labor, reading to him from the pages of D. Oswald Heist’s famously schlocky pulp romance novel. Both believe that the book is not a love story, but a commentary on the war between their home planets Landfall and Wreath, urging that the fighting has to stop. When Marko shares with Alana that he’s to be transferred to Blacksite, from which prisoners never return, the two share their first kiss and Alana vows to help him escape.
While the story is still your average “star-crossed lovers run away” plot, I liked that there was some good commentary in this installment. When Alana and Barr argue, after Marko and Klara run off to slay some baddie, Barr explains to Alana that it’s hard for his wife to see their son with someone of her background – Klara’s parents perished at one of the battles between their planets. Alana protests that she wasn’t even born then and, besides, she too lost relatives in the war. Barr asks Alana, was her people’s response proportionate? Is that what her history books told her? In doing so, he encourages her, and us, to consider that there are two sides to history and that it’s not as simple as winners and losers. There are always multiple perspectives and multiple agendas to be told.
This volume also included some fantastically grotesque imagery. Witches appear with their faces turned upside down, Sextillion bodyguards are drawn with their shoulders bare and their heads placed where their genitals should be. Marko and Klara find themselves face-to-foot with a three-eyed giant whose large fleshy pustule-dotted scrotum hangs perilously above them. The absurdity of the art adds some much needed weight to an otherwise standard love story. I’m looking forward to seeing how much weirder this ride will get.