In the summer of 2018, the world stopped turning for fans of Saga. Screenwriter Brian K. Vaughan and cartoonist Fiona Staples had just announced their decision to go on hiatus, leaving readers in suspense for a dramatic final issue. With the Covid crisis, the break dragged on, and the roughly 7 million readers around the world couldn’t stop longing. But that’s it, the wait is finally over. Saga has a sequel, and the French-speaking public can discover it since October 7, in a tenth volume dealing with the adventures of their favorite alien family.
Love, tolerance and diversity
Launched in 2012, Saga quickly found its audience, becoming a bestseller awarded with a dozen Eisner awards (equivalent to the Academy Awards for American cartoons). This series is of course about distant planets, laser guns and spaceships, like any self-respecting work of Space Opera, but its success is above all due to the brilliance with which it tackles its central themes: love and family.
These topics, universal enough to speak to everyone, have made possible Saga to be translated into 20 different languages and to seduce an audience from all walks of life. Because in this comic, love doesn’t stop at a question of skin color or sexuality. How could it be so in a galaxy where your mother has wings, your father has horns, your nanny is a ghost, and your neighbor in the tree that serves as your home and vehicle is a pansexual alien with a television instead the head? This is the context in which little Hazel develops, heroine almost in spite of herself of this family fresco.
Surprising as it may seem, it was this fun sequel that appealed to readers who identified with the motley cast of Saga. This was not obvious at the launch of the series, and Brian K. Vaughan himself did not bet too much on its future. In an interview at CBRhe admitted: “It’s a fantasy book without superheroes, with two non-white protagonists and an opening chapter that very clearly depicts a robot sex scene. I thought it was going to be canceled after three issues.” What followed proved him wrong to doubt.
human after all
Because, basically, despite all the quirks of its spatial decorum, Saga is above all a human story, and readers have understood that well. Marko and Alana are two completely opposite beings who come from planets that are constantly at war but fall in love. As their impossible romance seemed to lead them to a melodramatic end, our Romeo and Juliet’s aliens experienced an unexpected twist: Hazel.
To them she is their daughter, the most beautiful creation in the universe. For their governments, it is something far more terrible than a little girl, “that’s an idea”, as summed up by one of their followers. The idea that two peoples, two planets that have always been at war, can love each other. Forced to live and face adversity for the benefit of their child, Marko and Alana will therefore flee and in their adventure meet a whole panel of characters of incredible diversity, but with whom they will end up forming a composite family.
Love, hate, anger, fear… I Saga, it’s all a matter of feelings and interactions between individuals who are much more human than they appear. The science fiction environment is only a pretext to explore all the diversity of these emotions and their manifestations, often quite crudely, but always with a kind of beauty and a depth that makes the characters, even secondary ones, touching and interesting.
It is of course linked to the style of Brian K. Vaughan, who fromY, the last man on Private eye, has always known how to approach sensitive subjects with a mixture of humor and finesse; but it is also due to Fiona Staples’ graphic touch, which wonderfully highlights the expressions of individuals in true explosions of color.
Together, they have found the perfect recipe to evoke readers’ empathy towards their characters who wonder about tolerance, the consequences of war, parenting, forgiveness or even trans identity. So many subjects that animate the galaxy far, far away Saga than our own planet’s society.
A new era
Despite this fabulous mastery of emotions, the creative duo did not create a universe made up entirely of good feelings, and the last volume published by Urban Comics during the artists’ hiatus also left readers with terrible heartbreak. But if you haven’t read the first nine albums yet Sagastop there to avoid spoilers.
[Spoilers] The final scenes of chapter 54 did indeed confront the readers with Marko’s disappearance with once again a kind of tenderness in the narrative, but this time it failed to compensate for the pain experienced at the death of Hazel’s father. However, as announced by Brian K. Vaughan, this chapter marked half of the planned 108 episodes. Hazel’s family – and her fans – therefore had a long way to go and should continue to move forward as they always have.
Chapter 55 (published in France at the opening of volume 10 of the comic) therefore takes place three years after the tragedy and the heroines remake their lives. Hazel is now a rebellious pre-teen who thinks she’s stronger than she really is, and Alana, far from being a grieving widow, runs a small business smuggling drugs and breast milk. Around them, Esquire is the only familiar face – though deeply traumatized by the hardships they’ve been through – and a newcomer, seemingly likable with his koala ears but with a mysterious past, acts as their partner and friend.
Our hilarious quartet will cross paths with a dysfunctional rock band that also plays space pirates. If this meeting gives rise to new adventures and a few flashbacks allow us to learn more about the fate of the absent, the interest of this new volume lies again in the exploration of emotions. Each member of the family thus manages their grief as best they can, and Alana, now alone to secure the future for Hazel, but also for Esquire, shows how far a mother is ready to go for her children. [Fin du spoiler]
We are in line with what has made the series successful for 10 years, which is a very good thing. This shows that the creative duo, who felt the need to take a breather while taking a break, haven’t lost any of their talent or inspiration, and it’s an excellent guarantee for the future. Because Saga is clearly entering a new era.
If the first half of the work, published in recent years, focused on the birth and survival of the “idea” Hazel, the chapters that begin the second part of the series set intrigues that will accompany the spread of this idea. And given the explosive nature of the teenager, it can be expected that this will inflame the spirits to the point of causing real revolutions in the galaxy. Saga.