Yay, Ghüs is back for a bit!
For the third year in a row I bought Saga for my friend for a Christmas gift. As long as they keep releasing one of these volumes every year, I’m golden. Volume 6 jumps ahead four years, so Hazel is in kindergarten, and Alana and Marko are kind-of together again, searching for their daughter. Meanwhile, Prince Robot is enjoying being “off the grid” and away from the court, raising his son in peace—until pretty much everyone crashes his party. Sorry not sorry.
Without a doubt, Hazel’s larger role as a protagonist is this volume’s most notable feature. Now old enough to have some agency over her life, Hazel is starting to grasp the politics of her situation. She and her grandmother, along with one of the women who were trying to kidnap them, are in a detention centre on Landfall. Yes, after all these attempts to keep Hazel out of Landfall’s hands, she ironically ends up right under their noses. No one except Hazel’s grandmother knows her secret—but this changes, and when it does, we’re propelled into another intense and dramatic sequence of the type Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have become so well-known for. Hazel and her grandmother must trust people who might betray them, before their time runs out.
So far, Hazel is proving a very interesting character. Her perspective is certainly unique. I especially enjoy her interactions with Miss Petrichor, a trans Wreathian character. Petrichor discovers Hazel’s secret but jumps to the conclusion that Hazel is the product of a Landfall man raping a Wreath woman. Here we have someone who is subject to discrimination herself, yet even she displays the bigotry and disgust we’ve come to expect as the reaction to Hazel’s existence. Once again, Vaughan and Staples provide us with interesting, multi-dimensional characters who have both redeeming and unlikeable qualities.
I could do without the two journalist guys who are poking around this story. I get how they fit into the plot, providing the Will with a way back towards Robot and (eventually) Alana and Marko. I guess I’m just impatient and want to see more of Hazel’s story! If she is this cool when she is a little kid, then I’m eager for the volumes that depict her actions as a teenager.
I also have to hand it to Vaughan and Staples for their excellent world-building once again. This is an area in which the graphic nature of Saga offers a leg up over a strictly prose work. Staples can, in a single page, subtly depict the cosmopolitan nature of this galactic society, the way that all these different species can coexist. This serves as a stark contrast to the homophobia and discrimination that some of the characters face. Saga’s is such a colourful, visually interesting world, and Vaughan and Staples manage to hint at a long and complex galactic history without getting bogged down in exposition.
If anything, Volume 6 only disappoints in that it doesn’t deliver a single, intense climactic moment. There are some really good scenes, some very intense scenes, but not one over-arching scene that anchors this volume in my mind. After the deaths and diversions introduced by the previous volume, this seems like a course-correction on the way to whatever goes down in the next one. I guess I’ll find out next Christmas!