Saga 9

Alternating Currents: Saga 9, Drew and Shelby

Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Saga 9, originally released January 16th, 2013.

Drew: My trumpet teacher used to talk about the “Ascending Spiral Groove Thang,” the notion that you can gain a lot from an idea by returning to it after you have different experiences to relate it to. He was using it as a (valid) justification for retreading the same lessons for his advanced players that he gave to his beginners, but I often think about it in terms of appreciating narratives. Many stories that I enjoyed well enough as a kid became significantly more meaningful once I had my own experiences with loss, heartbreak, or leaving home. Of course, I’m a far cry from having seen it all, and nothing reminds me of that more than parenting stories. Whether they feature uptight professionals (or lazy slobs) whose lives are turned upside down by an adorable street urchin, or a good old-fashioned “we’re having a baby!” story, the moral is always the same: having a kid changes everything. I suspect these stories keep being told because artists keep experiencing it — a kind of “no, seriously: HAVING A KID CHANGES EVERYTHING” — and because the stories themselves can never really do the experience justice, all of which leaves me feeling like I’m probably missing something all parents just get. Fortunately, that ignorance doesn’t prevent me from enjoying said narratives, as Saga 9 so ably demonstrates.

This issue exclusively follows the Will, whose motivations are pulling him in a number of directions at once. This is demonstrated no more clearly than in the opening dream sequence, where he imagines The Stalk is alive and well, and helping him rescue the Slave Girl from Sextillion. He’s rudely awoken by Lying Cat, to warn him that Gwendolyn is approaching. Gwen has come to put The Will back on Marko and Alana’s trail by letting him know that Prince Robot IV is also tracking down our newlyweds, and that the best way to find him might just be to find them. The Will agrees to cooperate on the condition of Slave Girl’s freedom, which Gwendolyn arranges under false pretenses. Of course, Mama Sun suspects as much, but doesn’t deploy nearly enough men at the exchange to stop The Will, who escapes unscathed with the girl in tow. As The Will and Gwendolyn decide what to do with Slave Girl, she reveals that she can “hear” Gwendolyn’s pendant, and that its ring companions (that is, Marko and Alana’s wedding bands) are nearby.

Normally, the use of a dream sequence as a window into a character’s innermost thoughts might strike me as overly convenient, but since no new motivations are revealed here, that skepticism doesn’t apply. In fact, the scene rather effectively reminds us that The Will wants to save Slave Girl and was in love with The Stalk, while also confirming that his mind is a pretty violent place. Given that this is essentially his greatest fantasy, I don’t really know what to make of him trying to shield Slave Girl’s eyes from its violence.

The Stalk and Slave Girl

He could just as easily have imagined a scene that wasn’t violent, especially if keeping said violence from Slave Girl were important. Instead, violence plays a rather important role in this fantasy, and The Will seems to like it this way (notice that he’s looking directly at the severed head, even as he’s preoccupied with covering Slave Girl’s eyes).

This familiarity with violence is borne out in the confrontation with Mama Sun’s Mole-Men, which is really the first time we’ve seen him in action since he blew up that monster in the first issue. He handles the Mole-Men quite impressively until one of them has him by the throat, at which point Gwendolyn comes in pretty handy. Oddly, the girl who managed to avoid service in the army seems to take particular glee in killing men in cold blood.

Gwendolyn

That common ground of violence helps unite these characters in our mind, which makes the prospect of something developing between them a pretty clear possibility. I wouldn’t normally start ‘shipping right out of the gate like this, but the final scene is downright domestic.

One Big Happy FamilyFiona Staples cleverly crams in some homey trappings around the cabin (note the stacks of dishes off to the right) but gives it a distinctly bachelor-y vibe (note the bottles off to the right), which I imagine will change a bit now that there’s a six-year-old running around. Again, I wouldn’t normally assume every two characters we see would become a couple, but, you know, having a kid changes everything.

What do you think, Shelby? These two are definitely both on the rebound — will they end up together (even if only temporarily)? What about all this kid stuff — do you think we’re missing a lot of the unspoken emotions here? Does that matter?
Shelby: I most definitely did not get a will they/won’t they (they will) sort of vibe from these two. I might eat my words later, but I didn’t think this issue was about Slave Girl, or the potential couple-ness of Gwen and The Will. I don’t know if I’m prepared to see this issue as a “kids change everything” set up, because we already have that in Alana and Marko. Maybe there will be other issues down the road where these two crazy kids finally get together, but I think this issue is about humanizing The Will.

Let’s start with that dream, and The Will’s love for The Stalk. I thought the whole scene was heartbreaking, because it’s so believable. Vaughn is doing what he does best; the setting and situation is so foreign, and yet the characters are sympathetic, relate-able. Let’s face it, there is nothing, with the exception of the Testiclops, that is more horrifying in this story than The Stalk. But her reaction to kissing The Will?

stalk and will

She doesn’t like his stubble. Now, while I don’t mind my guys a little scruffy around the edges, this is the most mundane, regular interaction we could see between two people in a relationship. This, the armless spider woman who just killed three people to rescue a 7-year-old sex slave from Porno Planet, is participating in a mundane situation. That’s the beauty of what Vaughn and Staples are doing, they’re crafting these normal characters who have normal reactions to normal situations, and are putting them in this epic science fiction universe. I think that’s why I’m not ready to see anything that may or may not exist between The Will and Gwen; I feel sorry for The Will for what he’s lost. At the end of the day, he’s just a man in grief. He may have a weird way of showing it (wasn’t he watching old sex tapes an issue or so back?), but he’s dealing with the loss of a loved one as best he can.

Drew, you commented on the violence in The Will’s fantasy, stating he could have just imagined a less violent scene, a situation where he wouldn’t have had to shield Slave Girl. I don’t think he could have; he’s a professional assassin. My 9-to-5 is finding defects in computer software, his is killing people in cold blood; his life is steeped in violence, violence is business and business is good. There is an important distinction to be made, however; The Will is a murderer, but he’s not a monster. Just because headless corpses are his day in, day out, doesn’t mean he thinks it’s appropriate for a child to see. Even The Stalk, who is obviously a monster, is not a monster; if The Will’s fantasy is to be believed, she was just like Slave Girl once, and she shows compassion towards her. That raises the question: who are the monsters in this story? Is it Prince Robot? Between his baby on the way and his severe PTSD, he’s far too sympathetic. Marko’s mom? She may be a tyrannical mother-in-law, but I don’t think she’s a monster. I don’t think we’ve met the monsters yet, and that is an exciting prospect. It’s even more exciting than being able to seriously ask the question “Is Prince Robot a monster, or is it the half spider-woman?” Man, do I love this book.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

44 comments on “Saga 9

  1. I have a hard time commenting on Saga because there are so many good things and so few things I have to criticize. I was surprised at how The Will got his butt kicked and had to yell for help. I kind of wanted to think he was testing her (he really could have gotten out of it), but I’m mostly lying to myself.

    I was surprisingly glad he went back to get the slave girl. I did not feel anything between Gwen and The Will, but I’m remarkably obtuse to that kind of thing in real life as in literature, so I could just be oblivious. Dude was just having hot/mundane fantasy dreams about his recently departed true love. . . He’s out for revenge for The Stalk, he’s not dreaming about hooking up with his targets ex.

    He can’t be.

    Or, I’m oblivious.

    • I was also really happy The Will went back for Slave Girl; I’m a sucker for the “badass with a heart of gold.”

      You know, I don’t think he knows Gwen is Marko’s ex yet, which just adds another fun layer to the relationships these people are developing.

      • When I get home, I’m going to have to look. I didn’t consider he didn’t know who Gwen was. Seems like he’s got to know, but I’m wrong a lot about what people (fake and real) know.

      • He more or less guessed that that’s why she was so interested in Marko, which she couldn’t really deny (thanks to Lying Cat). He may not have the details, but he generally knows what’s up.

        Come to think of it, why do you suppose Gwen even wants to see Marko? Is she seeking closure, or is this more vindictive? I generally try to avoid exes, let alone traveling across the galaxy to find them.

        • But she knows a hit is on Marko, right? That’s how she found The Will. She ‘seems’ vindictive about it. That was my impression.

        • A FINE POINT. But also, maybe she’s just using the bounty hunter to find him for whatever purpose. I think it’s intentionally vague at this point. Maybe she wants to use their jilted love for some kind of spell. MAGIC!

        • It could be to get the rings back (were they hers to begin with? Or a gift? How does that work?).

          I kinda thought he ran off on her with little to no explanation and she wants him dead. That was how I read the comic and what I thought was going on. I mean, is she going to go with The Will and then declare her love, steal Marko from his baby and new woman, and stop The Will from executing them? No, I think she’s going to go revel in the bloodshed.

        • I don’t know, I think her biggest reason for going is to check up on her bosses’ investment in The Will. She’s dressed approximately the same as the woman who hired The Will in the first place, I think she just might be an assistant checking in.

    • I definitely think this ‘ship will be a surprise to those involved, but I maintain that there are glimmers of it now. I agree that he’s not thinking about it yet, but having these two lonely people struggling through the same stuff together makes their eventual union seem inevitable to me. Vaughan might take a while to develop it, but I think he’s setting the stage for their romance to feel very natural.

      • I think Gwen and The Will can become important to each other without the traditional ‘shipping entering the equation. That being said, I would be surprised if they didn’t rebound hook up with eachother. You know, the sort of thing they both instantly regret, and do a really good job of not talking about for months.

        • I could never make up my mind (I know, I’m worse than Kate). For much of the run, I was a Skater, but I really liked that Sawyer and Juliet got together. In the end, I just didn’t want Kate to be with anyone.

        • It’s weird, because I know Vaughan could go any number of ways with this, but he seems to like to ‘ship his characters — especially the ones he’s attempting to humanize. Almost all of the characters in Y: the Last Man end up with someone (at least temporarily). I think he likes having his character’s romantic lives smash into each other, and the dramatic potential for a The Will/Gwen relationship makes it a strong choice. I think they’ll get together in some capacity, but I’d certainly entertain suggestions that they won’t.

      • I’m with you, Drew. These two are definitely going to be partners (hunting partners, at least) for the time being, with a sort of parental partnership on the side (which, unless he is a total dick, WILL change everything for the Will). Romance seems a fairly obvious next step. Of course, BKV doesn’t always go in the obvious direction (though he does sometimes get to the obvious outcome through more convoluted means…). Anyway, this issue brings in some twisty new developments and I can’t wait to see where this all goes!

        The parental and family themes in this series are pretty interesting–almost all of the major and minor players have some sort of family issue going on….

        • Also great to see an issue that commits so completely to non-Marko-and-Alana characters. As much as I want to see what happens when that giant space-egg hatches (and whither Isabel), this was a totally welcome expansion of the universe.

    • Also, I could swear I’ve seen the love story between a rugged, roguish mercenary-type and a spunky aristocrat somewhere before. Maybe it also featured a galactic battle (a star war, if you will). I wish I could remember what that was…

  2. The Stalk had a big nasty scar in the middle of her chest in The Will’s dream. I can’t remember off-hand, but is that how she was killed? Blow to the chest? I’m pretty sure she didn’t have it in life.

  3. WHO’S THE MONSTER: Shelbs, I think this is one of those situations where the world is the monster. Every individual person seems fine, but like, deep down, it’s the people that made up a society that lets something like Sextillion do whatever it wants. The Will and Gwen may have saved one child sex-slave, but there’s clearly a demand for it in that shithole – and there’s no way she’s the only one.

  4. Shelby, I think we are more or less agreeing with about The Will and violence. Whether it’s because he likes violence, or if it’s just all that he knows, the point is the same: he relates to the world through violence. He can’t imagine getting what he wants in a way that doesn’t end violently. I definitely think caring for Slave Girl is going to soften him up.

      • What I do want to fight about is the “kids change everything” theme. That seems to be what this series is all about, with everyone being a parent in some capacity. Heck, even the planets are sometimes babies. Point is, Slave Girl is going to slow The Will’s roll, and I’m gonna like it.

        • Excellent use of slowed rolls, Drew.

          I think that’s an excellent point. Marko and Alana’s love is important – sure – but the thing that really unites them against the societies that reject that love is Hazel. It’s no coincidence that the supporting cast is also collecting children. THEME

  5. I find myself totally agreeing with Drew- I put the issue down and was already wondering when Gwen and The Will were going to get together! Maybe that’s just the way I’m primed to see comics though. I also agree with Patrick’s comment above– I would be surprised if there was a Big Bad. I think the story will move forward on the story of “people’s conflicting desires create the conflict” more than any figure pulling the strings behind the scene. OTOH, I’m pretty much willing to follow absolutely anywhere Vaughan leads on this so I’m not invested in being right!

    • I’ll probably be more on-board as time goes by, I was just way more touched by The Will’s dream of The Stalk than I thought I would be.

      • Yeah, truth. I was really hoping she’d be back for real in this issue… I’m kind of shocked by how much I like her, even when she got such little screen time and what she did have was when she was trying to kill Marko and Alana. The whole dream makes the cover so perfect and so freaking sad.

  6. Help me out. Who put the hit on Marko and Alana? Before this whole post, I thought it WAS Gwen. It wasn’t Prince Robot, right? Otherwise he’d have known who The Stalk was and not shot her.

    Who hired The Will if it wasn’t Gwen?

      • Yep, Wreath High Command went with a team of freelancers, while Landfall deployed their own aristocracy. I like how everything we know about these cultures demonstrates how different they are from one another.

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