Picking up from last issue’s stinger, this week we’ll be looking at backstory, specifically Marko’s. As a foot note in regards to narrative, I’ll beg the indulgence to get a bit technical. I’m an English major, so I might as well make those years worth for something other than drinking and weeping. Exploring a character’s background gives us not only another story to read, but a deeper understanding of a character. While the very notion of a link between the past and the present allows us to make a narrative connection, the character’s contrasting traits in this time relation allows us to look for patterns.
These patterns manifest themselves into motifs, themes and, whatnot. But as we read on into future issues, the patterns echo at potentially each and every action and decision. By looking into the past, we learn to read beyond the outright evident in the future. The chapters that follow can become more than a mere sequence of events; they can become a narrative reverberation that makes the past ring with fate or inevitability. Or really, they may just be events in the future with no connection to the past whatsoever. We’ll find out which is the case as the story progresses.
“Hazel, eh? Beautiful goddamn name.”
We start off this week’s review with one of the prettiest, most innocent images ever. As it is, the sight of young Marko could remind a reader of Sweet Tooth’s Gus (also published by Image Comics). Yet the addition of dandelions in the wind and that horned doggo makes for a fantastically bucolic scene. As Hazel narrates, we are reminded about the story between Wreath and Landfall, a conflict that predates little Marko by a fair bit. This time around she notes that although the average citizen paid the conflict little thought, her father’s family was not quite average. The way his mother cuts a line across her palm in front of her child hints early at warlike ways within the bloodline.
Hazel now recounts her father’s first memory. At a most tender age, his parents took him to the site of the final battle that took place on Wreath. Although the war took off into the confines of the galaxy, the soil was forever branded with the massacre. The child’s mind was also tainted at seeing the carnage upon soldiers and civilians alike. As the scenes unfold, their parents’ intent becomes very clear. Marko is never to forget his people, those who died warriors and the victims of the crossed fire. He shall especially remember those who responsible for his people’s deaths. An identity in terms of species (in the same lines as nationality, creed and the like) can so easily become toxic during wartime. Young Marko had learned to hate.
Fast forward back to the present, adult Marko introduces his Landfallian wife to his parents, with a smile. We’re meeting the expectations about delightfully awkward moments quite fast and lithely. As you would expect, Hazel’s grandma is not entirely pleased, while her grandpa looks just suitably bewildered. However, Alana is the first to raise her voice, damning Marko’s mother for killing Izabel. She, in turn responds that she only used a banishment spell on her, thinking the ghost girl had captured her son.
This means everybody’s favourite ghost is still as alive as a dead person can be. But we can’t quite go on without Hazel’s babysitter, can we? Marko promises to fill his parents in on the latest events as he dons his father’s gear, ready to go get Izabel from the place she’s been banished to.
Marko slashes a magical tear in the air and runs into it. His mum hurries after him, leaving towel-dressed Alana and her in-law behind in the ship. Before things can get humorously awkward, Marko’s dad tries to speak soberly and sensibly, but the conversation quickly takes a drop into the subject of historical polarity between both races. Alana walks into the lush green entrails of the ship at the first mention of the baby. Marko’s father follows, wanting to look at his granddaughter. However, owing to the bond between the ship and her guests, the former binds the intruder with vines as a warning to back off.
Meanwhile, Marko appears amidst the deserted ruins of an unknown planet, with his mother close behind. The conversation quickly becomes a reprimand on Marko for having shattered the family’s oldest weapon, as you do. His mum reveals that, in doing so, he revealed his family’s whereabouts to just about everybody, possibly including some Freelancer who paid them a visit at some point. Marko asks if this Freelancer was The Stalk. His mum replies that this Freelancer was actually male (The Will); nonetheless, this prompted Marko’s parents to search for their son out of sheer concern for his well-being. They even sold the house to afford their gear, for they anticipated peril.
As the inevitably chewing out begins to involve Alana and Hazel, a huge shadow looms over them. Marko throws himself, and his mum towards the ground to dodge the strike of maul that makes the ground quake. Marko looks up to find that they aren’t alone in these ruins. A huge, hideous, ogre-like thing with three deformed eyes, a massive bone for a weapon and the ugliest genital region I’ve ever seen in a comic stands tall over them. We don’t know if this thing is capable of speech, but any intentions involving that bone, and that ‘bone’ (more of a sack, really) need no words to be dreaded.
Far off this woeful site and our heroes’ ship, Hazel muses on the nomadic ways of her family. On another float in the galaxy, Prince Robot IV pilots The Stalk’s ship towards Quietus with his ominous mission. Somewhere else, The Will has landed on a beachy planet to roost for some time while he grieves his old flame by watching some of their old sex videos, as you do. All the while, she narrates that her family hoped the pursuit would end by being forgotten by a galaxy so much larger than they. Hazel hints that for all the menaces that would close in on them, the main risk would emerge from within her own family.
Back in the ship, Alana sasses vine-bound Marko’s dad a bit as they wait. At this point, she is quite savvy about the Wreathborn people and their spells. She also has the most experience about the ship’s whimsical nature. Magical spells require secrets as ingredients, and she’s already told Marko all of hers. However, Marko’s father has one up his sleeve: He is terminally ill, with less than one month to live. Alana realises this means he hadn’t told his wife, let alone his son. He seizes the chance of the shock and blows a sleepy time spell on his daughter-in-law. After Alana falls asleep right there and then, he takes Hazel, cradling the baby in his arms.
What intentions could Marko’s dad harbour about Hazel? Can family bonds truly bury bloody with such ease? Will this horrendous thing have its way with anything that breathes and suffers? Where is Izabel? What kind of further threat will Prince Robot IV and The WIll pose to our heroes?
Will I ever give it a rest with these questions?
Let’s find out next week.
Saga Issue #7 Credits
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
All images are courtesy of Image Comics.