by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples, 2014
When we last left our intrepid heroes we found them hiding in the library of author D. Oswald Heist. He is under interrogation by Prince Robot IV and things are not looking good. Volume 3 of Saga brings us back to the crew’s arrival at Heist’s lighthouse home. The old drunkard welcomes them when he realizes that they understood the meaning behind A Nighttime Smoke, the novel that most dismiss as pulp romance.
Here the story circles back on its central theme of romance. Heist talks of his lost loves – a wife that was killed and one that he divorced – all the while growing closer to Klara in her grief over her husband’s death. It’s a schlocky turn of events, one befitting of the cheesiest of romcoms where the older man and the older woman must fall in love because the writer can’t find anything better for them to do. Although that doesn’t entirely happen here, I found the fact that the story headed in this direction tiresome. (I must say, however, that the interruption happens in a rather spectacular fashion.)
Elsewhere in the story, we meet two gay, romantically involved tabloid reporters, hot on the tail of Private First Class Alana and her supposed kidnapping from Landfall. (Why is it important to note that the reporters are gay and involved? I don’t know, except that it seems all storylines in this series must contain some element of romance.) Meanwhile on their ship hurtling through space, Gwendolyn finds herself falling for The Will during their ongoing hunt for Marko and Alana because, well, of course she would. Why give characters any motivation other than romantic love? That is, apparently, the only thing that drives us.
Where Volume 2 piqued my interest in the exploration of war’s effects, this volume regresses back to the soap operatic elements that I disliked at the series’ outset. Of several plot devices I despise, high up there would be the author’s insistence that all characters have nothing better to do than fall in love with each other. Can we not talk about loss? About the subjectivity of right and wrong? Of what it means to fight for a belief and cause destruction in your wake? Of what the opposite of war truly is? (I refuse to accept Oswald’s cheap assertion that it is “fucking.”) These questions are all ripe for the picking here, but they are cast aside in favor of nauseating sentiment. I am still enjoying the ride this series offers, but I can’t help but be disappointed by everything Vaughan chooses to pass by.