Saga #54 marks the last issue before the next hiatus in Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ legendary run on the sci-fi series. Typically this means we’re in for a shocking cliffhanger that will leave us wondering for the months to come, but also set up a big shift in the narrative when we get back.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The explosive “season finale” to SAGA’s most shocking storyline yet.
Why does this matter?
This issue follows the last issue where we found The Will holding Prince Robot hostage. It’s a tense moment and it’s one made scarier since Marko and Alana have finally found some peace in their oddball family unit. Also, check out all that blood on the cover. Deaths are going to be coming folks!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue is a quick read laid on top of a strong narrative from Hazel’s ongoing narration. She’s speaking about death, life, and her perspective from which she is writing from. If you’ve been dying for a little more detail on who she is while she writes these notes you’ll get a juicy detail on that here. This wistful narration helps create a sense of gloom over the events that are transpiring. The Will is let loose so to speak and Marko is in grave danger as he spars with the assassin. Nearly the entire issue is focused on Marko and The Will fighting which is why it’s a quick page-turner.
There is a quick flashback scene between Marko and Hazel on the beach which adds a bit of meat to the narrative bones of the issue. The message connects well to the final few pages which sends the message that we should be kind to each other. It’s a message we need more than ever in the real world and it certainly puts a period on the cliffhanger in the issue. Why can’t we all just get along?
Staples continues to show why she’s one of the best in the game. The action is fluid and easy to follow. The emotional beats are strongly rendered on the characters faces as they react and look on in dismay, fear, or happiness. There isn’t any nudity this issue, but the violence can be graphic. A few broken fingers look gnarled and painful, for instance.
It can’t be perfect can it?
It’s a quick issue to read, but also a harrowing one due to the fact that we find out in the letters section this book won’t be back for at least a year. A larger problem I had with the issue is The Will and the lack of connection to the character. We’ve been through a lot with the character, but he acts more as the stand-in villain in this issue more than anything else. Even when he speaks he talks like he’s all business with zero emotion. I understand he’s been through a lot and probably very broken at this point, but that’s not conveyed here. You’ll need to spend some extra energy reviewing what he has been through to relate at all with the character, which is a problem given he’s been a lead hero and protagonist for stretches of this story.
Is it good?
A good issue thanks to the masterful talents of both writer and artist. It’s going to be hard to wait another year for this series to come back, but rest assured its direction and approach will be so different we’ll be happy the creators took extra time with it.