by Spencer Irwin
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
As its title would suggest, Saga is a series with an ambitious scope and a sprawling cast, one where the perspective often shifts between various groups of characters, even though we can count on Marko and Alana’s family to be at the center of events at any given time. It’s also a series where nothing stays the same for long, allowing for any number of shocking betrayals, alliances, deaths, and shifts in the status quo. This all comes heavily into play in Saga 54, an issue that upends the series’ world in ways we’ve never seen before, ways most of us probably were not prepared for.
Saga 54‘s big, series-shattering twist? The Will kills Marko. Both subjects of that sentence are important; obviously, the death of Marko is the biggest thing to ever happen in Saga, but the fact that he’s killed by The Will is also incredibly significant. The Will isn’t just a character who’s been a part of Saga from its very beginning, but one creators Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have often used as a viewpoint character and a protagonist. The Will was the hero of Sophie’s story, and when he fell ill, readers were rooting for Sophie’s crew to heal him. Vaughan and Staples continue this pattern even now, giving The Will the kind of ambition-revealing vision (featuring fan-favorite characters) usually reserved for heroes.
Except, The Will isn’t a hero. I wondered last month if killing Prince Robot would fully cement The Will as a villain, but his also murdering Marko leaves little doubt; if anything, he’s now Saga‘s greatest villain, but he’s also a villain readers have viewed as a hero in the past, whose adventures we’ve followed just as we have Marko’s. It’s a betrayal that hits harder because we’ve seen so much of this series from The Will’s perspective.
Marko’s death also shifts the perspective of the entire series. Up to this point, how would have you have described Saga? Sure, it’s about war and violence, love and death, but how would you have summed up the plot? I’m sure each of us would have had a different answer, but I’d likely have described it as the story of Marko and Alana’s love, or Marko and Alana’s family. Saga 54 completely upends that. Saga isn’t Marko and Alana’s story: it’s Hazel’s. We know Hazel comes out alive and well, but the safety, sanity, or morality of any other character is no longer guaranteed. That I can be surprised by such a basic fact 54 issues into a series is astounding, even for a series that routinely surprises me.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?
I’m generally not afraid of spoilers, but this issue marks the rare example where I really wish I didn’t know what was going to happen before I read it. Vaughan and Staples pace that fight scene — and especially that big page turn — so perfectly, I’m jealous of everyone who got to experience the actual surprise. It’s my own fault; I waited almost a week before getting around to reading it, so I’m mostly kicking myself for not getting to it sooner.
Hell of a way to tie into the first issue. And only half way through the story they’v planned for Saga. Pretty sure there’ll be more nice big twists before it ends.
And to have to wait a year till the story continues. I wouldn’t mind more comics having a similar “problem” 🙂
A bit akin to tv shows. I quite like having to wait a year to see what’s next.