Saga #36 Review (SPOILERS)
"A Family Affair"
There is an important reunion in Saga
#36, as young Hazel is reunited with her parents, Marko and Alanna. That is not the only highlight of the issue, which moves a number of characters forward in unexpected but logical directions. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have made life difficult for a number of characters in the middle of their family space story, and some of those challenges have been resolved in the latest arc. However, there are still some questions about the future, including a semi-shocking ending that will again change the status quo for the series.
In the last issue, Hazel’s teacher Noreen has resolved to break Hazel out of prison while Marko and Alanna (with the aid of former Robot Prince) are nearby and also trying to rescue Hazel and Marko’s mother Klara. Noreen, being a teacher, has a terrible plan for a prison break, one that comes close to getting her killed -- if it hadn’t been for the help of Klara. Even though it doesn’t really work, Marko arrives in time to rescue Hazel and Klara. Klara, however, finally feels like she has found a place where she belongs and decides to stay in prison. So Marko leaves with Hazel after a nice goodbye with his mother. Meanwhile, The Will does battle with Ghus in order to kidnap the Robot’s son Squire. Ghus makes a nice showing for himself but is defeated. The Will can’t bring himself to enact revenge on a young one, as visions of the deceased The Brand takes over his conscious rather than The Stalk, who had been pushing him for retribution.
The reunion of Hazel and her family is a really nice moment, one that has been coming for a while in the series and even longer in story time (since Saga
jumped forward a period of time in the narrative). The actual rescue is a little anti-climactic, especially since the botched smuggle-escape by Noreen really raised tension. In this case, though, the earned emotional moment of Marko hugging Hazel as she repeatedly says “daddy” is so powerful that it overwhelms any need for the beat to be thrilling. Hazel’s return to her mother is, on the other hand, less emotional and more tense, as stowaway Petrichor initially thinks Alana is a threat. Petrichor also senses an important and pretty surprising moment at the end of Saga
#36 – Alana is pregnant.
There are two ways to feel about the second Saga
baby. On one hand, it was a turn that did genuinely come as a surprise to me and one that can open up a lot of storytelling possibilities in the future. After all, Hazel’s presence has been a driving force for most of Saga
, so what will another mix-breed child like her do? On the other hand, the “surprise baby” trope feels a little like a sit-com moment that maybe shouldn’t be that
important of a cliffhanger ending.
In many ways, the resolution of The Will’s hunt for revenge on Prince Robot is a more interesting direction for future stories. The Will has a vision of The Brand who urges him to resist vengeance. The Will is lonely and confused (not to mention mentally unbalanced). He tells her “I miss you. I miss everybody.” The Brand, or rather The Will’s mental imagined version of her, tells him that he should “Go ask the one chick who calls you on your bullshit.” This could refer to a new character, but my sense is that it means Gwendolyn, who hasn’t been seen in Saga
since the jump forward in time. It would be a welcome return because Gwendolyn’s fierceness was a strong element during her time in the story. I suspect it could also mean the return of Sophie, the girl who The Will rescued many issues ago, who also hasn’t been seen in the series since it jumped forward in time.
#36 has a potent mix of action and emotion. The reunion of Marko and Hazel is perhaps the most emotionally-rich moment of the series in many issues. There are also deft action moments, such as Ghus’ fight with The Will and the confrontation between Noreen and the prison guard. Staples is an excellent artist who again manages to make the most of both types of panels. In the hands of a lesser artist, the hug between Marko and Hazel might not be so touching and the sight of tiny Ghus going toe-to-toe with The Will might be more comical than exciting. Staples makes the most of all of the panels in Saga
This issue marks the end of the latest arc of Saga
. I’m not going to rank it compared to other big moments in the series, but I do think that the arc was one of the better ones in some time, as a number of the previous arcs were solid and enjoyable but also felt a bit directionless at times. It’s reassuring that Saga
has come back with such a good number of issues. Vaughan teased that the next arc, beginning in a few months, called “The War for Phang,” is probably the closet Saga
will ever get to an “event” comic. Even if you are not a fan of event comics (I have mixed feelings on them
), an event comic Saga
-style is an exciting proposition. For now, though, Saga
#36 gives us a satisfying conclusion to a number of threads, sets up some new ones, and delivers on a rewarding reunion.