Everybody likes some sense of urgency. It’s the spice of life. Whether it be a timed non-escort mission in a video game, or barely making it to work in time, there’s a bit of a rush in success while inevitability looms over you. Last issue, we left off with such a notion. The planet’s not a planet, but an egg; Marko and his mum have more to overcome than just the local monstrosities. We know this by know, though; Saga tends to alternate narrative times, whether by older Hazel’s foreshadowings, or retrospectives into her parents’ lives. Today we ease into the urgency with a flashback.
“I missed you too, sugar bean.”
We’ve yet to see the magical moment when it happened: when Alana and Marko fell for each other. Thusly this issue starts in the diegetic past once more. As you’d expect, war prisoners in this universe don’t get much indulgence in terms of manual labour. So, with BB-8 clasped to his leg and a sledgehammer, hunky horned Marko works the quarry. He takes a break from his labour to address lovely warden Alana as she reads her favourite book. At this point, it seems that they’ve grown quite civil, to the point of addressing each other by first name basis. Alana’s dear novel seems to have also grown on Marko, so that may well be a point of affinity.
As a brief comment, I’d like to point out that we’re getting a taste of the novel’s prose proper. It certainly features a far more ‘mundane’ registry. Yet its theme and tone may well be alluding to a Jane Eyre-like dynamic, through the subtle tints of social criticism. If we were so inclined, we could also be reading some Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea in the troubled polarity of races informing the Saga universe. Rhys’ novel is about a Creole woman in the same diegetic context as Jane Eyre. However, upon arriving at England, she finds that she doesn’t fit in either side of a binary society. I dare say Post-Colonial Literature and Saga go hand in hand.
There’s way more to this angle in relation to Saga, but I’ll keep that to my personal blog, which you can read here. I will allude to this in future reviews, because I’ve found it consistently relevant.
Anyway, Marko has read plentifully into the text, having arrived to the conclusion we’ve explored on past reviews. The book is not quite a love story in itself, but an allegory of the war that has scourged the galaxy. Alana agrees to an extent, thinking one can only disguise such a message as something as marketable as a simple love story. This exchange hints at a slightly subversive relation going on between these two in relation to the war. They’re not cool with it, so their secret book club has served as an outlet for these feelings.
However, good things sometimes don’t last, as Marko reveals to Alana that he’ll soon be transferred to Blacksite, a final destination of sorts for detainees. So this is goodbye. Marko expresses gratitude in at least getting to meet somebody like her before the curtains drop on him. As a gesture of fondness, he means to give her the rings which, though she doesn’t know as of then, belong to Gwendolyn. Suddenly, she blasts the chain attached to his ankle apart, urging him to escape. And this is the magical moment, the instant shock of what it means to betray your side, the hesitation to flee. And well, the rest is just pure magnetism. This is, Hazel narrates, the way her dad won over her mum.
Fast forward to the present time at the Egg. Marko and his mum, Klara, are looking for Izabel. They’re already hard pressed on time, so it’s almost a narrative necessity that somebody comes up to delay them. From the imaginarium of crones and witches that permeates sagas, odysseys and tragedies, come forth the Midwives. They’re black-robed women with heads twisted upside down and haunting black eyes. They also spit a black ink-like fluid, because always you need some repulsive features with your crones. As they close in on Marko and his mother, a big flaming gorilla appears, because why not.
Having scared the scary old women away, it reveals itself an illusion. Hello, Izabel. If I were a doggie, my tail would be fanning the air til I flew. Marko is relieved to find her, but the ghost-girl is busy confronting his mother because of sending her to this place. Still, life has a peculiar way of breaking arguments. Sometimes it’s a glad turn of events, sometimes it’s a dreary swerve, and sometimes the ground is literally cracking beneath your feet. The Egg is starting to hatch, so it’s time to take off. Alas, where is this whimsical, dear, living rocketship to save them from catastrophe?
About the rocketship, Barr is still hard at work making every second count. Alana runs in, scared and concerned. She was giving Hazel a bath, when a bit of her fell off. Barr gives her some relief, telling her it’s just the last bit of the baby’s umbilical cord. The recent mother feels a tad foolish, but her in law comforts her by saying one never quite learns how to be a parent. One only starts figuring things out until very much later. I’m not a parent myself, but I cannot imagine it being easy. As he tenderly cradles his granddaughter, his words strike with a hint of sorrow. Alana urges him to tell the truth to his wife and son. And speak of the ghostie, and she shall appear.
Now that everybody’s aboard and back together, there’s elation to be had. But not right now, for some shit’s about to happen. Bits of the Egg’s shell float about like asteroids. Marko and his Klara don’t get to explain what it’s about to happen until it’s too late, and all words become unnecessary. The massive space baby has hatched. Alana asks the ship to take off, but the lighting scheme in the vessel instead changes to a bright violet. Izabel interprets this as a signal that another ship is closing in on them. It’s The Will’s. The former slave girl’s sense for Gwendolyn’s rings proved accurate. The Freelancer is doubtful of the girl’s sense, since no other ship appears on his instruments. However, something else does. With a shocked expression, The Will acknowledges the giant time baby as a Timestuck. These creatures are deadly predators of horrifying proportions.
The Will opts to flee, but Gwendolyn won’t have that. She’ll take the chance to take out the ship, which probably means taking out Marko. She launches a missile, which homes in on our heroes’ rocketship. Things are looking hairy with one menace in front, and another behind. Klara calls for evasive maneuvers, but Alana has another idea. She is savvy enough on armament, thus she knows that a warhead won’t detonate within blast distance of the ship that fired it. Their best bet is to ram the missile while they can, so full speed against the missile she calls. It’s a deathly gamble, and it works.
Back aboard the Freelancer’s ship, the Will lashes out against Gwendolyn while Slave Girl hides behind Lying Cat. The ship is blind to the fugitives’ presence. Even if the scorned Wreath woman can feel Marko, launching a warhead was a terrible mistake. If it didn’t hit the fugitives, it most certainly would hit something else. Case in point, the missile exploded on the Timestuck’s tummy. Unharmed and angry, the horrendous space baby tears a huge hole in The Will’s ship. Sex tapes and cereal boxes fly all about the ship while each passenger hangs on in desperation at whatever they can.
Hazel muses on the virtue of collateral damage. It’s a bit of a meta allusion to deaths of secondary characters. This musing strikes quite bitterly when considering how past issues explored The Will, in terms of drives and history. On the grander scheme of things, he’s no more than just an adversity for our heroes to overcome. Thusly, these characters would appear to be expendable, acceptable losses in theory. But we know we’re not dealing in terms of binary relations, good and evil, right and wrong. Nothing is quite that simple in this story.
Let’s keep that in mind as we see the horror in The Will’s face as Lying Cat floats away into the cold, dark space.
Saga Issue #10 Credits
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
All images are courtesy of Image Comics