Review: SAGA #13

SAGA #13
Written By Brian K. Vaughan
Art By Fiona Staples
Release Date: August 14, 2013

saga_013_coverSaga is back, and it is still awesome!

After the series’ second planned hiatus, readers can rejoice as the thirteenth issue of Saga has finally hit the stands. Instead of picking up right where he left off, Vaughan takes a step back and starts to show the readers the story of the week leading up to the events of issue twelve. Alana, Marko, Hazel, and company make their way to Quietus while The Will, Lying Cat, Gwendolyn, and “Slave Girl” are stranded on a paradise-like planet. We are also introduced to a soldier who was a victim of Marko and Alana’s recent escape from Cleave, who is forced to bring in some outside help to prove his story is true.

Readers expecting this issue to pick up right where issue twelve left off may be disappointed when they begin the issue, but by the time they reach the beautiful last page they will realize the disappointment was all for naught, as Vaughan continues to meticulously build both this world, and more importantly, these characters. One of the things that makes the world-building in Saga so amazing is that Vaughan is able to write about anything he wants. In this issue alone we have a Veterans Hospital, a conversation with an insurance adjuster, bickering among in-laws, and the tabloids right alongside Bone Bugs and the usual magic and spaceships. Vaughan decided early on to infuse some of our real world into an otherwise unfamiliar fantasy/sci-fi world, and the results haven’t been better than they are in this issue.

The character work is the absolute highlight of the issue. Marko and Alana are still new parents, and Alana is still dealing with having her mother in-law, who she barely knows, living with them. Oh, speaking of Alana, she is still bad ass and proves it once again in the issue’s lone action scene. The characterization doesn’t end there, as we get to learn more about Gwendolyn in one panel with Lying Cat than we have since her introduction, as her new relationships with The Will, Lying Cat, and “Slave Girl” are starting to be fleshed out. We are also introduced to a veteran who was wounded by Marko that is desperate to be heard. He is so desperate that he reaches out to the tabloids to get his story out, and as a result we are introduced to a new pair of characters who I’m eager to get to know. In one of the best moments of the issue, we are introduced to an Oswald Heist — who isn’t quite in the same condition that we saw him in last issue. Then you have The Will. For over a year the readers have been ensured by Hazel’s narration that The Will is a horrible person, and yet Vaughan continues to make us believe that he isn’t quite the monster that he has to end up being. It is this back and forth that makes him one of the most intriguing characters in all of comics. He once again steals the issue with his “conversation” with his lost love, his frustration at his situation, and his relationship with “Slave Girl.” If you don’t feel anything as you reach the last page, then you may be less human than Prince Robot IV. Everything is written so organically that layers upon layers of characterization get added and it feels like we are getting to know these characters personally as we feel the emotions that they feel.

This world, these characters, they would be nothing without the continuing presence of Fiona Staples. This especially holds true in this issue where there is far more character than action. Artists drawing action scenes are dime-a-dozen in mainstream comic books. I read a lot of comics and I am all for superheroes fighting super villains with lots of big action, but there is something to be said about being able to successfully, and powerfully, capture the emotion of the quiet moments. Vaughan has given Staples so many opportunities to capture the emotions of the characters and she nails it every single time while still being able to draw a heck of an action scene. It is easy for me to say that Staples takes what would be a good issue to start the new arc, and elevates it to an amazing issue. The look on The Will’s face as he is surprised to see an old friend, or frustrated with the insurance company, or his proclamation on the last page are made far more powerful because of Staples’ art. In fact, everything I mentioned above when discussing Vaughan and his world/character building is made more powerful because of the art. Marko and Alana are new parents that look tired, the fear on “Slave Girl’s” face is shown, not told, and Klara exchanges scowls with Alana that I’ve seen in-laws in my own family give each other. This synergy among a creative team where the writer can count on the artist to not only capture what is written, but to add to the story and world, is rare in comics today.

Saga isn’t a book that one just reads — it is a book that one feels and experiences. There doesn’t need to be non-stop action every issue, as long as we get to see different sides of these characters, and feel what these characters feel each and every month. Saga is back, and it is still awesome.

The Verdict: 9.5/10


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