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By the stunning end of Saga #29, I was trying to wrap my head around all of the destruction that occurs in the issue. Three characters die in this single issue and while not all of them have been long-time major players in the series, at least one of the deaths is one of those types of characters. For a while, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have been building three concurrent storylines, and this issue is a way to heighten the tension even more, as bad stuff has happened on all three fronts.
Alana has been kidnapped, along with her daughter Hazel and her mother-in-law Klara, by Dengo, a murderer from the Robot Kingdom, who has handed the three over to a group of even worse criminals. However, Dengo soon discovers that he is not a partner but an inconvenience who is to be killed. Instead, he strikes first. On another front, Marko and Prince Robot IV are chasing after Dengo because he has also kidnapped Prince Robot IV’s baby. However, in going after Dengo, the Prince is disobeying orders from his own world, causing ships from the Robot Kingdom to fire on Marko’s ship, leading them into a dangerous “warp-drive” type maneuver.
Finally, the last group is comprised of The Brand, Lying Cat, Gwendolyn, Sophie and Sweet Boy who are in search of a compound that will save the mortally-wounded The Will (The Brand’s sister). Unfortunately, the substance is seed from some dragon monster and it awakens when Sophie abruptly tried to take it herself. That results in severe injuries to one person and another one from the group being torn literally in half (I won’t spoil which characters are offed in Saga #29). So things are pretty bad there.
As is probably evident from this description, this is any exciting issue where major plot points happen throughout. Vaughan and Staples have never been shy about shocking moments, and Saga #29 is a good example of that. Most comic creators would kill off one character and consider it a momentous story point. Saga #29 shows us three deaths (or at least apparent deaths). It’s not like these storylines have concluded, either. The arcs on all three fronts are still ongoing and perhaps more unpredictable than ever. Beyond killing characters, Vaughan and Staples fill this issue with interesting moments, good dialoge, and revealing character beats.
If you haven’t read Saga or haven’t read the last handful of issues, you may have read my summary and thought, “Who are all of these characters?” That is the one downside to have complicated plots with many characters. There are a lot of people and names to remember. However, Vaughan and Staples have worked hard to make each major character have defining traits and they seem like individualized people rather than just colorful illustrations. Still, due to the advanced plot and Altman-esque character list, it will be tough to jump on board Saga #29 if you haven’t been reading recent issues of the series.
Of course, another prominent element of Saga is humor and in the midst of all this action, introspection and carnage, there are funny moments. While some of these are provided in dialoge, many of them are supplied through the art of Staples. She gives us a large drawing of the monster doing something dirty to itself. It’s ribald humor, but it is funny. She also excels at character reactions, and there are some short funny looks throughout Saga #29. As should be expected at this point with Staples and Saga, the action is fantastic as well.
Twenty-nine issues is a lot for a single creative team on one title, and it wouldn’t be surprising if things stagnated a little in this situation. And yet, Vaughan and Staples are surpassing those expectations by delivering a great issue. While some of the preceding issues that have been setting up these storylines haven’t been classics (though Saga #27 was pretty close), this issue really hits all the marks. As it is about to move into its thirties, Saga still have youthful energy. Overall, due to its rich storytelling, surprises, and vibrant art, Saga #29 is an outstanding comic book.