It always feels like Christmas when Saga comes out since we endured a three-year hiatus and, more recently, a six-month hiatus since Saga #60 came out. The series has returned this week, nearly a year ago to the day since it returned, featuring our favorite characters, Hazel and Alana’s attempt to stay alive in a galaxy that’s rife with war. In the latest issue, we catch up with Gwendolyn and The Will, as well as find out about something that might send Hazel down a dark path.
Saga #61 opens with a scene between Gwendolyn and Marko. The two characters are far younger. It appears to be a flashback long before Marko ever met Alana and before he entered the war. This serves as a good reminder of their close relationship before Marko entered the war and that Gwendolyn still has feelings for the now-dead Marko. Soon we learn it’s all a dream, and Gwendolyn is getting hot and heavy with The Will. The series continues to show the interconnectedness of these characters, and that goes for a character gunning to kill The Will if it’s the last thing they do.
This issue does a good job of showing us how the war is affecting Hazel, her “Brobot” brother, and Alana. Similar to the last story arc, they’re still trying to make it in a world that doesn’t care or even see them. That’s helpful since they’re still in hiding from dangerous threats, but it makes life less comfortable. This series has always been anti-war, and it’s nice to see the effects of the war still ongoing since it can sometimes seem distant or nonexistent.
This issue also reminds us these characters are aging. From Hazel’s more teen look, thanks to Fiona Staples’ expert art, to Sophie looking far more grown up since she was rescued from slavery. The attention to detail to age up Alana will also not go unnoticed. For a series that has lasted years, it’s incredible how subtle it can be to see these characters change. It makes the series as a whole feel permanent and more real. The customary weird animal aliens in this issue also look good, plus some good space scenes are thrown into the mix.
If you’re looking for shock value–and who isn’t with Saga–this issue has it in droves. From the classic smash-cut opening page to nudity, there’s always something to amp up your attention and make this book feel unique from the usual comics fare. The cliffhanger is particularly shocking, especially since it’s a surprise it hasn’t come up in a universe of magic.
A standout visual element in this issue is the opening scene. Set in a dream, Staples colors the backgrounds in a streaky sort of way. It’s subtle enough that you won’t notice at first, but if you give it a second, it’s clear something is up with the scene.
Letters by Fonografiks are also good here, with the captions told via a handwritten style right over the art. Word balloons sometimes appear behind characters ever so slightly, giving the art a punchier feel.
Saga #61 returns after a six-month hiatus, which might be the best issue since the three-year hiatus ended with issue #55. The characters feel aged and hyper-real, the approach of the series continues to interconnect multiple characters, and the plot appears to be heading down a road of huge impact. Saga is exhilarating thanks to a rich cast of characters and the incidents so varied.
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