Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Saga 13, originally released September 25th, 2013.
Shelby: One of the big parts of growing up is learning that you can’t always have what you want. As a kid, when your parents tell you that you can’t have something, you pitch a fit in the middle of the Jewel-Osco, but as you grow up you learn to more appropriately deal with disappointment. It’s a process that never stops, because we constantly have things we want taken away from us. Sometimes we have to choose between two things we want, knowing that we’ll always be a little disappointed for the option we didn’t take. Sometimes we have to face the hard truth that we can never again have what was lost, no matter how badly we want it.
Despite the fact that this book is narrated by Hazel, who is telling the story of her parents, this issue focuses on the relationships developing between the rest of the cast of characters. Spoiler alert: they’re all pretty touching. Heist offers up his lighthouse for the night to the travelers; it was the least he could do, after the shock of learning a man from Wreath and a woman from Landfall read his book and started a family because of it caused him to promptly vomit on Hazel. There, he gets to talking to Marko’s mother. She fought at Cartwright, where Heist’s civilian wife was killed by an errant shell — er, spell. Heist has lost everyone important to him to the war, and he sees that same loss on Klara’s face as he bandages up her ear.Despite the facts that Klara has been rude to Heist since they landed and that she could have been responsible for the death of his young wife, Heist offers relief for both of her wounds. His advice to her on the loss of her husband is blunt and to the point; things will get better, but its always going to be shittier than it used to be. Heist is a man of harsh truths who is not going to sugarcoat anything. I love the way Vaughan is setting him up as a surrogate grandfather to Hazel, not only for this role in bringing Marko and Alana together, but also for the obvious relationship set to develop between him and Klara. He’s just another addition to the cobbled-together family Vaughan is creating for Hazel.
Speaking of cobbled-together families, The Will finally makes a move on Gwendolyn, and it goes about how you’d expect.
They were fighting about what to do next; The Will just wants to fix his ship and settle down, hunting flying sharks for food and living like a king. Obviously, this is not the route Gwen wants to take. Tensions and passions are high, and at ghost The Stalk’s urging, The Will goes in for the kiss. Fiona Staples’ panels of these two kissing are perfect. It’s the classic “no, yes maybe, definitely no” sort of kiss; in the first panel, Gwen’s eyes are wide with shock, in the second they’re closed, seemingly enjoying the moment. But, just on the edge of the panel you see her cocked fist, which ultimately resolves the issue.
The Will finds himself in an interesting position. On the one hand, he lost the woman he loved, and he wants to make the person responsible pay. On the other, he lost the woman he loved, and he doesn’t want to play this freelancer game anymore. He’s kind of a father now, he’s got responsibilities other than Lying Cat, and the urge to be left alone to grieve and live simply is completely understood. I wonder, too, if having Slave Girl — sorry, Sophie — in his life makes him less interested in persecuting this young family. Or if it will make him more compassionate towards Robot Prince when he learns he’s going to be a father.
Of all the smart, exciting, intriguing moments in this issue, my absolute favorite is a very tender one with Sophie and Lying Cat.
That’s just so…beautiful. The scene is wholly unrelated to the plot of the issue, serving to develop Sophie a little more, but nothing further. But the straight-forward way Lying Cat announces she’s lying, without even opening her eyes: it shows there’s no judgement or shame with what Sophie has done, just that she is lying to say she’s dirty because of it. And that contented smile on Sophie’s face? I’m tearing up a little here writing about it.
I could go on and on. I could write a goddamn book on this issue alone, comparing Klara and Barr to Klara and Heist. Or speculating about the potential meeting of three new fathers on Quietus. Or dissecting the glimpse we got into Alana’s childhood, specifically how much I love the photo of punk Alana at her father’s wedding. But, I should probably leave something to Drew to talk about.
Drew: Oh man, does that glimpse into Alana’s past explain a lot. Super-young step-parents are always icky, and the fact that Alana was actually summer camp buddies with the girl who would become her step-mother is entirely deserving of this reaction:
To me, this is a much more important revelation than the (admittedly hilarious) photo of punked-out Alana. I mean, doesn’t Alana kind of seem like someone who dyed their hair black in high school? (And yes, I realize that her hair already is black.) Even mentions that Alana was going through “some…hard stuff” around that time, which I suspect (and hope) we’ll learn more about in due time, but for now, this is a treasure trove of details. Alana’s strained, awkward relationship with her own parents shines a very different light on her new family — and provides a stark contrast to Marko’s relationship with his parents. Vaughan keeps tying all of the threads back to family, but it always feels natural. Of course Alana was a rebellious teen with a young trophy wife for a step mom. Alana’s mother is obviously a big part of this equation (and I can’t wait to meet her), but I’m fascinated by how the life sketched out in this scene jibes with the Alana we already know.
Actually, I think we might get more about Alana in that scene than we do on Quietus, where Klara and Heist basically steal the show. With all these new families and young(er) couples, it’s refreshing to see two members of another generation commiserating over lost loved ones. I didn’t see any romantic overtones in that scene, though I don’t think Shelby’s wrong to suspect that those two might end up together. Right now, they just seem like two world-weary souls finding some common ground, but I could see that growing into a kind of mature, not exactly head-over-heels companionship.
Then again, I may just be distracted by the crumbs Vaughan throws us about the relationship I’ve been pulling for. Shelby, I totally missed Gwen’s fist in that panel — maybe I just wanted to see that she had closed her eyes — but I don’t think it bodes well for her enjoyment of being kissed by roguish, heartbroken bounty-hunters. Then again, maybe she is open to the idea in the future…
My wishful thinking aside: what’s the deal with ghost The Stalk? Has The Will just lost it, or is there something hallucinogenic about this planet? I don’t think there’s a ton of support for the “the planet makes you see things” theory, but maybe that’s just because I’m too willing to accept space sharks because SPACE SHARKS. Much of the rest of the action on the planet — including that scene of Sophie and Lying Cat — are too sincere for me to want to suggest anyone’s behavior is being altered, but I also don’t know what to make of The Stalk’s presence here. Like, there are ghosts in this story (and it’s notable that The Stalk died on Izabel’s planet), but this The Stalk is decidedly not pink. She’s somehow in The Will’s head, but exactly what that means isn’t clear.
Hey, so Sophie is having some trouble adjusting to her new expectations. When The Will asks her if she likes her new name, she answers with the skin crawly “I like any name that pleases you, The Will” — clearly a holdover from her slave girl days. Later, she seems to have internalized the “slave children is wrong” message, but isn’t sure how that reflects on her. Shelby’s right, it’s incredibly touching that Lying Cat is there to knock those ideas right out of the air.
Actually, between Sophie’s adjustments and the origin of Alana’s rebelliousness, this issue seems focused on how kids are shaped by their environments. We’ve been so focused on the trials and tribulations of the adults in this series, it’s easy to forget that this story is ultimately about how Hazel grew up to be the charming narrator we know and love. Her situation is a lot harder to pigeonhole than “young step-mom” or “adopted from abhorrent conditions,” and I’m fascinated to see how it shapes her.
And if that isn’t enough, this issue delivers the return of the fur seal boy and his walrus-camel. Who could ask for more than that?
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?