All narratives can potentially be engaging and immersive, but a sense of temporality can imbue them with depth and relevance. When you acknowledge the past, you acknowledge a relation of cause, consequence and all the developments in between. Suddenly, your story is not only about daring escapes, killing baddies, and lots and lots of fucking. It’s no mere backstory, but a historical paradigm that made all of this good stuff possible. In the case of Saga, this history contains a lot of hatred and prejudice, which also happen to be key ingredients for the ‘spiritual’ side of war. Lots of interesting things can go down when you take that timeless notion of ‘us and them’ and challenge it. Whether by loving and having a family with one of ‘them’, or by taking arms to defend that forbidden family.
“Commenced with Plan B.”
We’ve established the parallel several times before, but Landfall is more or less the equivalent of the Western paradigm. It’s capitalism and large-scale war economies. Its people are basically us, but with wings, which although are mostly vestigial, are still probably a really cool thing to have. It’s probably no surprise that at some point, the Landfall army picked their young soldiers through a draft lottery before transitioning to an all-volunteer force. And what better way to amass such a bulk than by a black and white propaganda clip at the drive in where the kids spend their weekend nights? Some youths legitimately believed in the righteousness of the cause, others just sought adventure. A few, like young Alana, simply wanted a escape. But most were united by one single reason: a need of money.
As time went by, the war extended to other fronts across the galaxy, with other planets taking sides. The spreading of the war jam meant a dwindling of manpower for both Landfall and Wreath. And soon enough, these two worlds had their hands clean off the bloody mess they originated. But the violence carried too much momentum to stop now. Next thing you know, generations in Landfall and Wreath are free to live undisturbed while other worlds bleed, championing either side. We transition from past to present in Hazel’s narration as Dengo leads her through a snowy passage in some unknown planet. In a horrendous irony, a product of the peace that might have been between the two worlds is driven straight into the conflict.
It has been three months since Hazel last saw her dad. Her mum, grandma, pet walrus, and babysitter are all confined inside of the ship. Dengo doesn’t seem to intend any actual harm, but so long as he has Hazel and the Princeling in such close proximity, there is little they can do. At least, that’s what Alana thinks. Grandma Klara has other plans in mind: to simply kill Dengo. This is, however, too risky a plan. A Fadeaway-withdrawal vomit fit reminds us that Alana had been an actor for a while. Resolute, she reasons that she may use some of those skills to get themselves out of this situation. She had best hurry, for continuously running on Walrus milk can’t be all that good for you.
Meanwhile, Gwendolyn and company travel to Demimonde, which is French for ‘Half World’. And, the place is literally half a planet, go figure. Their goal: obtain Dragon Sperm for a powerful healing elixir. Shit, that sounds RPG-ey; Gwen, both Sophies, Lying Cat and Sweet Boy do make for a nice party, though. Actually, the process of killing a dragon does look somewhat reminiscing of a battle straight out of Final Fantasy and the like. However, their efforts are cut short by the frightful discovery that it’s not a male dragon. The real Mother of Dragons ‘marks’ them all (nasty) for the rest of the family to join in on the kill (nastier). Golden showered and surrounded, the team had better come up with a plan, soon.
And speaking of alliances, let’s take a look at an unlikely one. Aboard The Stalk’s ship, Ghüs has pointed the direction Friendo has ‘signaled’, but all that lies ahead is a wasteland of dying stars. While this doesn’t look a plausible destination for Dengo, Marko insists they should heed the walrus shepherd. Some bickering ensues between Prince Robot IV and Marko. But it soon turns nasty and baleful as the former reminds him of the fragile boundaries of their association. Marko may be soft-spoken, but he isn’t meek when his family is threatened. Before things get violent, Yuma tries talking some sense. Still, Marko reminds her that she’s the sole reason Dengo abducted his family. Morale is low aboard the late Freelancer’s ship, so Marko walks away for a break.
As we know, Hazel’s narration breaks the linearity of time in Saga by foreshadowing future events. Sometimes it does more than that, by giving this prior knowledge a sense of tragedy. Marko approaches the bed where’s placed his belongings, and he sees Hazel’s doll, Ponk Ponk, under his shield. As he breaks down into pained sobbing, Hazel reveals that it will be years until she sees her father again. No matter how much the reader would wish otherwise, she has proven a reliable narrator so far.
Back on the snowy planet, Alana and Klara catch sight of a ship landing nearby. Alana identifies it as an Astronomical, an old decommissioned model. Hazel’s grandmother worries that if Dengo called the Landfallians, they would kill Hazel as soon as they saw her. With both kids in hand, Dengo returns to the ship, revealing his plan. He indeed made a call, but not to Landfall. First he had hoped to persuade people to join his cause through words and images, but he now understands that he requires a new, more active, approach. Thus, he has called the Revolution: a pack of five new colourful characters, all belonging to different species and planets. In a peculiar irony, the spreading of war far beyond its home worlds has come back to bite the paradigm in the ass.
However, it’s not uncommon in modern fiction that we take the romantic idea of a Revolution with a grain of salt, or a trademark symbol even. While the ultimate goal of bringing down a despotic establishment is noble, the zeal of measures towards that goal may no paint no better a picture. In this case, this problem is highlighted further by the fact that we don’t know this group’s ultimate goal. Dengo means to end the social and economic inequality that festers in the Robot Kingdom. But it’s not promising to know only the motive when you undertake such a grand purpose.
Motives aside, what depths is Dengo willing to explore to achieve this end while others are fully willing to play Liam Neeson on Taken (Before it became ‘Taken for granted’) against him? At the end, everything boils down to one thing: Defending your family, and exacting vengeance unto all who would do them harm.
Saga #25 Credits
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
All images are courtesy of Image Comics