Saga #31 Review
"Kids Say the Darndest Things!"
After a break of quite some time, Saga
returns with a new issue for the first time since July. The break is a bit jarring and it seems that Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples anticipated this by jumping forward in time. Essentially, it doesn’t matter if you don’t remember exactly where things left because most of Saga
#31 takes place well after that. It’s a good issue centering on Hazel, who is no longer a baby, though I did miss seeing all of the great characters the series has developed.
There is one important element from the previous issue that Saga
#31 references, and that is the attempted kidnapping of Hazel and her grandmother Klara by a bunch of terrorist outlaws. That doesn’t go very well for anyone, and Hazel and Klara end up in a home for prisoners of war. The bulk of Saga
#31 jumps forward to Hazel’s early years of schooling, where she has learned to hide her bi-species nature from her classmates. Klara and a returned Izabel look out for her, but they cannot be present when Hazel is at school. After meeting a sweet and sympathetic teacher, Hazel decides to reveal her nature to her, and the teacher's shock leads to some unfortunate circumstances.
The things that are rewarding about Saga
#31 are also the things that are a little frustrating. It’s pretty daring that Vaughan and Staples give an entire issue to Hazel, especially after a long break, knowing that fans are wondering what’s going on with her parents Marko and Alana. It’s pretty interesting to see how Hazel is doing, considering she is without her parents and essentially in some sort of public housing. She doesn’t seem to have many friends at school. The jump forward is a nice tactic by the creators to make Hazel more of a real character with felt emotions rather than just a cute toddler.
Conversely, I don’t think that many readers would say that they have been checking out Saga
for Hazel (though her "older point of view" narration is pretty great). So it’s a bit disappointing to not see Marko, Alana or many of the other characters from the first thirty issues in Saga
#31. Klara has a few good moments, and it’s nice to see Izabel return. While I get that there are only so many pages, and it’s hard to tell a coherent story switching places a lot, I think a quick glimpse towards the situation elsewhere would have been gratifying for fans.
Fiona Staples has an opportunity in Saga
#31 to create some new characters, and she has some sharp-looking designs. Hazel’s teacher is some sort of bug woman, and there are the fellow residents of the war prisoners’ home. Even Hazel is a slightly different look since the jump in time makes her older. Overall, Staples provides some strong art, including one action sequence that picks up the showdown that occurred after the attempted kidnapping in Saga
It is certainly nice to have Saga
back again. While it’s not that every issue of the series is a home run – this issue is good not great – but even the issues that aren’t standout are still solid. This is true of Saga
#31, which makes some intriguing story choices with time that could dramatically change the series in upcoming issues. Will we jump forward in time with all of the characters? Will there be back and forth in time to catch readers up? I would think that the next issue will give us a pretty good indication. With Vaughan and Staples, though, it will no doubt be surprising.