by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, 2014
Volume 4 of the Saga series finds us with baby Hazel as a toddler, the robot princess just having given birth, Alana fulfilling others’ fantasies as a character in a TV show, and a robot commoner out for revenge. In this part we’re privy to some of the more everyday troubles of inspecies married life. Sure, Alana and Marko still have to be worried about being hunted down and made to pay for their insolence, but they also are faced with more common problems: Alana is something of a workaholic and Marko, a stay-at-home dad, gets to be perhaps a bit too friendly with Hazel’s dance teacher.
I have to wonder if the purpose of this section is to show us that our problems are everyone’s problems. It’s essentially an affirmation of the platitude that “wherever you go, there you are,” for even in outer space moms are punished for their ambitions and dads are prone to follow their basest desires. It would be an interesting way to examine the banalities of American life if, in fact, there weren’t so much else going on in this story. Knowing that there’s so much yet to be answered – What of D. Oswald Heist’s novels? Why is Hazel’s existence forbidden? – the detour is unwelcome. I understand that this is a developing series, but I need to know that we’re not going to forget the questions posed in the beginning in favor of focusing solely on a dull marriage.
I did enjoy the introduction of Dengo, the robot commoner who stages a one-man (one-robot?) uprising against the Robot Kingdom. Having lost his young son to tainted water and lack of medical care, Dengo takes it upon himself to rail against the opulence and ignorance of the ruling class, violently seeking revenge for his son and all other common robots. It’s not by any means an original storyline, but it adds some much needed weight to what is otherwise our space soap opera.
There is some hilarity to be seen in the artwork here, I must admit. King Robot makes an unforgettably grand entrance and, well, if you’ve ever wondered what a robot birth might look like, you’ve got it. What the series lacks in story, it thankfully makes up in visuals. Although I remain not terribly impressed with these books, I know I’ll continue reading, if only to take in those delightfully grotesque images and see how all of this eventually shakes out.