by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, 2015
Volume 5 of Saga finds Marko on board a spaceship with Prince Robot IV, separated from his family. Baby Hazel has been taken by Dengo, the robot commoner set on avenging his son’s death, Alana and Klara are trying to devise their plan to get Hazel back, the “Last Revolution” arrives, and The Brand, Gwendolyn, and Sophie are in search for dragon sperm (yes, you read that right) to cure the wounded bounty hunter The Will who, as we’ll recall, is Gwendolyn’s true love, or something like that. We continue on in about five different directions and it feels like it.
The one thing I did enjoy here is the look at war on Wreath and Landfall, Alana’s and Marko’s home planets. From soldiers being selected in a lottery, to volunteering for war being seen as a way to escape home or bring meaning to a life, to war being an abstract concept for those whose lives are not directly affected by it, Vaughan successfully uses this interplanetary conflict to mimic the way war works in America. The assertion that women bear the brunt of suffering – that there are always children involved – is on point. Alas, that’s one of the few things I found admirable in this story.
I have yet to mention the egregious amounts of sex in this series. I’m far from prudish and have no problem with sex scenes when they add to the story, but here we constantly have images of nudity and sexual situations that seem to have no purpose other than to shock the reader. We see Marko having drug-induced dreams about Alana asking him to spank her while pregnant, Prince Robot receiving oral from his fallen Princess (also a dream), a dragon pleasing himself, and one of the members of the “Last Revolution” walking around in some sort of fishnet bodysuit. That’s in this volume alone (let’s not forget about the planet “Sextillion”). To be sure, gratuitous graphic sex is depicted throughout the series and I have yet find justification for it.
I suppose some of the charm of Saga is this blatant sexuality and that the story does go off in these numerous directions, planting seeds for any number of plots to develop. It is an ongoing series, after all, but I’m having trouble seeing how any of this can ever come together. Is there an endpoint in mind? Will it be more than Alana’s and Marko’s homes coming to accept their interplanetary love, with the whole family living happily ever after? Because I can tell you that I would be sorely disappointed if I went through all this weirdness just to end up with a cliched, heteronormative ending. I hope we get more than that.