Throughout its 56 issues, Saga has stayed true to its name, ever rolling on as a journey with no end in sight. That’s a good thing since it handles character development, new sci-fi ideas, and plenty of shock value in every issue. The series is a bit like a warm blanket, supplying familiar vibes and interesting twists on sci-fi. This week’s issue of Saga #57 is no different.
Since the series returned from its three-year hiatus (check out our reviews of issues #55 and #56), new characters in Hazel’s tribe have been introduced and a decidedly pirate angle has been taken by the crew, which includes Hazel’s mother Alana. With a direct threat levied at her in the last issue, we soon learn who these pirates really are.
Unfortunately for readers, that reveal is a bit of a fake-out, although your frustration around such a cliffhanger will be abated by a key flashback. The issue opens with Alana and Hazel getting some medical help a few weeks after the bloodbath on Jetsam. Customary of the series, this scene is heartfelt, deeply emotional, and permeated by a bit of the weird as Alana speaks to a wolf doctor who lets her many breasts hang out.
The issue opens with an incredible full-page splash by Fiona Staples featuring Ghüs playing with a bunch of world cubs. Hazel looks on but is enjoying their fun. Their joy in playing is a nice way to show Hazel isn’t crushed at every moment with the loss of her father. The fact that the kid wolves wear shirts and the mom is naked is a weird choice that suits the series. Little details like that end up sitting with the reader, making them question how these characters live their lives.
That opening is certainly the most impactful scene of the issue, since much of it is about setting up new mysteries and directions for characters. Bombazine gets a key scene near the end of the issue as he connects a bit with their new pirate friends, Alana interacts with a few characters before heading off, and The Will is given a moment with the robot people. It gives the issue a transitory identity as we await story threads to hit their high notes. As it stands, much of this issue is the quiet chorus that’s building towards big turns in the plot.
There are a few interesting themes at work here, although some aren’t quite fully formed yet. Bombazine is a war veteran and it’s clear writer Brian K. Vaughan is setting up an exploration of his trauma and how that affects his personality. Alana continues to sacrifice herself for her kids, but how much can a mother sacrifice before she loses herself? The Will’s personal journey isn’t yet clear, although it’s clear going forward he will be interacting with the larger politics of the series. All of these stories either telegraph sacrifice as their theme, or at least hint at it.
Saga #57 is a good chapter in a series that always moves forward. Saga manages to mix weird with wonderment while developing its rich characters in every scene. This may not be an explosive issue, but it’s setting up character arcs worth exploring.
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