Published: 27 December 2017
Publisher: Image Comics
Category: Space Opera/Fantasy
After the traumatic events of the War for Phang, Hazel, her parents, and their surviving companions embark on a life-changing adventure at the westernmost edge of the universe.
Collecting: Saga 43-48.
Rating: 5 Stars
Caution: scenes revolving around miscarriage/abortion, violence, nudity
Saga continues to be a favorite series of mine. From the diverse cast to the epic storytelling, there hasn’t been a volume yet that has let me down.
When I started reading this, I actually didn’t realize that I’d missed reading Volume 7, so there was some confusion and unexpected heartbreak as I came in on the results of events from the previous volume. Characters had passed from the narrative, others were in horrible situations, and our main group was facing some challenges that were rather heartbreaking.
I’m going to enter into spoiler-y territory here so SPOILER WARNING!
At the end of the last volume, there was an accident aboard Marko and Alana’s ship, resulting in her losing her baby. Volume 8 picks up almost right after, with the crew journeying to a planet where Alana will be able to get a late-term abortion. Now, this takes place alternately in Abortion Town (more than a bit callous, naming it that) and a back alley town which is the only place Alana can go a) because of her and Marko’s situation as “enemies” in a war and b) Abortion Town doesn’t handle late term abortions under any circumstances.
The commentary on how situations like this can be forced on pregnant women is not told solely from Alana’s perspective, but also a character we’re sort of introduced to at the end-wife’s office. An elephant patient sought the end-wife out because her fetus was revealed to have a debilitating deformity that would have made its life painful and short. As horrifying as the setting it, the topic is important and about choice.
Prior to and up to the conclusion of the appointment with the end-wife, there are scenes where Alana exhibits signs of magical ability. This is especially odd because spell casting is only doable by those from Wreath, Marko’s home moon. It’s discovered that she “has” magic because of her son and when he passed, the magic becomes hers for a time. That in and of itself is sad, but what makes it even more tragic is that spell casters can make projections of their potential future, which results in Alana projecting an image of what her son could have been like.
This development was equal parts traumatic and possibly cathartic? It was a strange situation all around as Hazel sort of gets to know Kurti (her brother, named after a friend from Vol. 7) and they talk about what it’s like to be alive/real and expectations (she thinks her parents want her to be a doctor, he encourages her to be a singer). The most heartbreaking scene for me occurs as Hazel is in the waiting room of the end-wife’s office and sings Kurti a lullaby as he fades. Vaughn sure knows how to ride a heartbreaking scene, doesn’t he?
Fiona Staples continues to live up to the excellence I’ve come to expect from her work. The creatures we meet, the colors of the worlds and how it melds with the scene, all come together with Vaughn’s writing and creates a tale that sucks you in.
Even with all the sadness and the trauma, there is still so much to look forward to. All the bad things that happen to this family and their friends/”friends” and there is still hope. I’m not holding out for a HAPPY happy ending at this point because this seems to be one of those series where no one is getting out unscathed, but maybe, someday, we’ll see Alana, Marko, Hazel, and the rest of their family finding the peace they need.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.