Today, Ryan and Patrick are discussing Saga 25, originally released February 4th, 2015.
Ryan: Pop culture loves rebels. We hang posters of them in our dorm rooms, whether they have a cause or not. We wear red graphic t-shirts emblazoned with their likeness, not very concerned about some of the more morally ambiguous acts this person committed. Luke Skywalker played figurehead for the Rebel Alliance and may be the most popular and beloved rebel of all time, despite the fact that the blood of 322,951 Death Star personnel (not to mention the oil of 400 thousand plus droids) stains his non-synthetic hand. Saga 25 adds another variable into the mix with the introduction of a third side to the outstanding war between Landfall and Wreath, while also providing another complication to the Dengo child-heist.
Despite our love for those who do not abide by rules set by an establishment, rebellions are not always clear-cut affairs. For example:
These two flags invoke two very different feelings. While they both represent the struggle against a larger institution, the flag of the Revolutionary War conjures thoughts of colonies vs. Empire and independence, whereas the Confederate Flag — no matter how insistent one is on it standing for individual states’ rights — inherently ties to the horrors of chattel slavery. In the same way, The Revolution, brought to the icy planet wherein Dengo continues to hold Hazel and the child of Prince Robot VII, are bound immediately to the fact that they will purportedly murder Hazel on the spot if they see her. And what a colorful group this Revolution is:
The five renegades depicted look eerily similar to the decadent cast of pseudo-heroes with whom Alana used to act in her Closed Circuit days. It is yet to be seen how these characters will fit into the narrative, but I believe that it is safe to say that they will be a proverbial game-changer on the established dynamic.
The broader impact of The Revolution on the Landfall/Wreath war would not be fully realized by the audience had Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples not taken the time in the beginning of this issue to catch us up on some interesting direct exposition. Through a series of narrated panels, all evocative of conflicts from the past century on our Earth, the audience learns the history of the conflict between the neighboring people with horns and those with wings. In a rich black and white, we see a lottery draft similar to that in 1863 for the Civil War and 1969 for Vietnam, troops storming out of trenches as in World War I, and a burial ground analogous to the Normandy American Cemetery.
The creative team brilliantly uses images burned into our collective consciousness from high school history to parallel this fictional war, making the arc of the conflict immediately familiar. The other purpose served is contextualizing the war within Saga’s universe. Before this, due to the focus on Alana and Marko’s relationship, the conflict felt more in line with the Montague/Capulet or Hatfeild/McCoy feuds. Around the middle of the series, the scope pulled back, showing us the larger military presences involved; Landfall/Wreath seemed in line with the Troubles between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Now, however, we learn that the scale of this war has wrapped in the rest of the universe to Cold War proportions. Over the course of five pages, the stakes have been raised to galactic levels, while still being relevant to the protagonists and central plotline of the series. Masterful strokes, per usual.
Patrick — welcome back from your brief hiatus from Saga reviews! How do you feel about the new additions to Saga’s sweeping tale? In my excitement, I did not even touch upon the three parties questing across this universe, led by Ghüs, The Brand, and Klara, respectively. Were you overwhelmed at all by all of the concurrent plot threads?
Patrick: Oh, man I love the idea that Ghüs is that leader of that particular contingent. I mean, I love the idea of Ghüs — full stop. Any additional role he has in this series is an added fucking bonus.
That trio — of Ghüs, Marko and Prince Robot — is easily my favorite team, partially because their goals are so uncomplicated, but they still manage a mortal Odd Couple dynamic. In the case of all three of those guys, all they want is to be reunited with their loved ones. As someone who’s never been to war (and never plans to go to war), their goal to essentially escape the hell of endless conflict is the one that makes most sense to me.
But it’s interesting to consider that the other two groups don’t just represent different war-time goals, but different types of war-time goals. Dengo has ideological goals, and aligning himself with the Revolution positions Alana, Klara and Hazel in the trenches, philosophically speaking. The make-up of that team is no coincidence either — there’s one Wreather, one Landfallian, and one Rebel. They’re the most equipped to have perspectives and conversations about the war. Meanwhile, Gwen and The Brand are searching for giant salamander jizz — I’m assuming to revive The Will — which seems like a tactical goal. Their best bet for survival and success in this universe is to have The Will by their side. Of all the adventures we see in this issues, their’s is the more straight-up adventurous. I mean, it’s almost straight out of a Skyrim side quest, right? There’s no subtlety to their mission: collect the valuable resource from the giant monster. That’s positively Odyssian.
Which basically means that, in broadening it’s scope, Saga isn’t just trying to tell a bigger war story, but more of them. Actually, now that I think about it, it’s almost Saga‘s first real venture into telling war stories, instead of dwelling on the drama of having a baby, raising a family or drifting apart. It’s actually sort of exhilarating to see some of the machines of war teased in this issue. Alana identifies something that “looks like the hoof of an old Astronomical.”
Vaughan is delightfully cagey on the details, but Alana and Klara’s shared silence speaks more than description ever could. That was some kind of weapon that FUCKED SHIT UP once upon a time. Staples and Vaughan are promising a world of Saga well beyond what they’ve already introduced us to, and they’ve given our favorite characters three separate methods for experiencing and exploring that world. It’s a series that couldn’t be much more pregnant with possibilities. That almost makes Hazel’s observation that it would be years before she reunited with her father a little bit easier to handle.
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?