Sunday, September 20, 2015

Comic Book review: Saga, Volume 5

It’s now been multiple years since Alana and Marko began their life on the run from the many factions that view their hybrid child Hazel as a bargaining chip or threat to galactic stability. As the fourth volume saw Alana, her mother, and Hazel forcibly separated from Marko thanks to the actions of one misguided and extreme janitor, this fifth volume bounces back and forth between the ferocity with which Alana will defend her daughter and the uneasy alliance forged between Marko, the now-exiled Prince Robot IV, coastal rancher Ghus, and thespian/drug addict Yuma. There is a also, a secondary plot concerning The Brand, Sophie, Lying Cat, and Gwendolyn, as they search for a means to revitalize The Will, who is still out of commission.

This fifth volume of Saga does well to focus the spotlight back on Alana and Marko more so than the previous two volumes did, but it does teeter back and forth in uncertainty as to whether or not it wants to redeem these two main protagonists. While they may be worlds apart from each other for the majority of this most recent volume, their thoughts of one another do weigh heavily, as their last interaction before they were torn apart was one of confrontation and hurtful words. And yet, while Alana does appear to bear some degree of regret over her exchange with Marko, her cunning and maternal defensiveness are somewhat undercut by the fact that she doesn’t seem to give a rat’s ass about anyone other than her own family. Marko, meanwhile, decides to turn to the drugs he so abhorred to escape his feelings of guilt over losing track of his family, and even displays a savage nature from seemingly out of nowhere.

While not nearly as overwhelmed in its attempts to juggle multiple story threads as the previous volume, this latest entry still feels a bit thinly stretch as more characters are introduced to the already burgeoning cast. Many of these newcomers see their stage exits by the end of this fifth volume, but it’s still almost too much on the plate when you consider the number of characters who have held minimal importance on the larger plot for the past two volumes. And at the end of this collection, there’s merely more cliffhangers and open-ended threads, with not but a few subplots being resolved by this trade paperback’s conclusion.

While Saga’s adult language and ‘edgier’ presentation factor were amusing early on, they have since become obnoxious elements of its identity. The series tries too hard to jam vulgarities into every other sentence, and the sexual imagery is largely without purpose – it’s perfectly acceptable to explore the relationship Marko and Alana forged during or even prior to Hazel’s conception, but it’s wholly unnecessary to show the act of a dragon fellating itself for a cheap laugh or ‘shock value’. While not as sour an entry as the fourth trade paperback, this fifth volume of Saga only does so much to return the series to the spark of imagination and intrigue, as well as the focused path that were so prominent in its first two collected volumes. As much as I wanted to continue enjoying Saga, I feel these most recent releases have turned me off to the series enough that I can confidently state that this is the end of my investment in Brian K. Vaughan's space opera.

My rating: 5.5 (out of 10)

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