Haha, so it seems like only yesterday I was talking about how Saga, Volume 8 was a refreshing respite from the dark, downer moments of his series.
I get it, those 1-star and 2-star reviews from people throwing up their hands in the air and saying, “I just can’t even with this anymore.” That is a legitimate point of view and valid criticism of this book. Saga, Volume 9 takes any of the good, happy feelings you got at the end of the last volume and tears them to shreds, lights those shreds on fire, then scatters the ashes of those shreds to the four corners of the globe. Then it cancels your Netflix subscription and steals your identity, using that to go on a crime spree. Just for good measure.
I’m not quite at the point where I want to abandon this series or anything. At the end of the day, this is Vaughan and Staples’ show, and they can do what they want with the characters (and we are free to criticize them for it, of course). I’m definitely not happy with much of what happens in this volume, particularly the final twist at the end. But there are definitely some things I want to praise first.
This instalment of the series underlines something that has been in the back of my mind for a while now: there isn’t really an endgame here. Marko and Alana have a chance to “escape” by essentially changing their identities. They reject this (which is fine), but this means that for the foreseeable future they will have to stay on the run for … forever. Their plight is not a simple conflict where the goal is to obtain something, or get somewhere. They have always been fighting to keep their family together, and usually that means running from people trying to hunt them down. That hasn’t changed, and it likely won’t change.
Vaughan and Staples also explore parents’ duties of care to their children. Marko and Alana make a decision on Hazel’s behalf, while Sir Robot makes essentially the opposite decision on his child’s behalf; both sets of parents are trying to safeguard their children. I like this duality here, because it emphasizes that sometimes it’s hard to see what the “right” choice in any given situation might be. There is no manual for parenting, especially when one is an intergalactic fugitive.
Those deaths tho….
I’m not against killing off characters, and this level of carnage is definitely consistent with Saga as a series. I guess what I’m saying is that you have every right to be upset by what happens here, but you should definitely not be surprised. That being said, I was surprised that Vaughan and Staples dispatch the new potential antagonist so quickly. I was hoping that she would be a more formidable foe. Instead she’s really just a vehicle to get The Will back in range of our intrepid protagonists.
Overall, though, I think this is a case of my opinion of this volume being dependent largely on what happens next in the story. Volume 9 reminds us that every moment of contentment can turn to ashes in an instance, that everyone is fragile and susceptible to injury, even fatality, in the harsh universe of Saga. For such a punctured equilibrium to occur can only mean that something even bigger, something even more intense, is coming up next. If Vaughan and Staples can deliver when they return to this series, then this volume will be a good set-up. If the next volume lets me down, then this one will have felt a little like an empty promise.
Stay tuned, I guess.