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Saga #13

by Wombatapult on August 16, 2013

When you're working on marksmanship, there's no such thing as 100% accuracy. No human being, even with consistently perfect technique, can plug the exact same point ten times from ten yards.


Art and literature are like that too.


Saga's 13th chapter may be the first that wasn't perfect. The series has been blowing our minds consistently, and even the longest winning streaks have to experience hiccups. Not to say the hiccups aren't still better than average. But hiccups are annoying and they make you uncomfortable.


After a long hiatus (which assuredly felt longer than the couple months it actually lasted), Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have returned to Marko and Alana's adventures a few months after the events of the last exciting episode. But for the first time, in both the art and the dialogue, there's a heavy sense of melancholy that wasn't there before.

It's a while after the passing of Barr, Marko's father. The cloud of the tragedy hangs low over the family, and the tension between Alana and her mother-in-law Klara is tangible. Meanwhile, The Will has also arrived at a place where grief and doubt are foiling him. That and a broken spaceship.

There's a lot happening in this issue, and a lot of significant transitions and revelations that bog down the movement of the story. There are introductions of new characters whose purpose in the plot is yet uncertain. There are flashbacks to old back-story via multiple narrations. There are expository conversations with dead characters. Someone gets an ear bitten off; I won't spoil whom or by whom. There's romance novelist D. Oswald Heist drunk and firing pistols in his tighty-whiteys. And a lot of people waking up in the middle of the night because of yelling. There are the same wild and wonderful sci-fi ideas that make Saga quirky, but not as much of the love and the openness that make it heartfelt. There's more plot here than character. I'm trusting and hoping that trend doesn't last long.

Oh, and slave girl finally gets a name. It's Sophie, for no particular reason. In other news, Lying Cat's name is still Lying Cat.

Fiona Staples' art is as gorgeous as ever, but feels slightly different this time around. Maybe it's the more subdued palette, maybe it's lines that are ever-so-slightly less clean. There are more grays, more unassuming blues, more dull greens that fail to give us the wild, adventurous feeling bestowed by the rich purples, reds and golds of past issues. While still nothing less than exquisite, it has enough of an effect that you can feel it while reading the issue.

I can't say I'm disappointed. I was still glad to read this issue. But I was puzzled and I do look forward to seeing these plots and revelations result in dynamic character growth and not just the progression of a story. Let's face it, we could care less about the nuances of plot in this case. When we read Saga, we're unilaterally reading because we're in love with the people to whom said plot is happening.


Saga #13 hits the red ring, but not the bullseye. That's still an accomplishment, and I'm sure it's a one-time slip—a jerk of the trigger finger, a catch in the breath, dust in the eyes—and we'll be back to nailing dimes next month. But as much as I'm infatuated with everything to do with Saga, this chapter falls slightly short.


You should totally still buy it, though.

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