Hot Off the Press: “Saga” Issue #33 (Review)

Feb 1, 2016

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saga 33 coverIssue #33
Image Comics

Story by: Brian K. Vaughan
Art and Cover by: Fiona Staples

As Saga propels forward with the main characters spread across space, Brian K. Vaughan has chosen to focus each issue on a different group. This month, we return to Hebdomadal journalists, and lovers, Upsher and Doff. Their story of choice? A moonie (Marko) and a Landfallian’s (Alana) forbidden love. The last time we saw the duo (over ten issues ago), the Brand—the Will’s sister—poisoned them with a substance that would kill them if they reveal the story. When they find out about the Brand’s death, and realize the spell has been lifted, they don’t waste any time picking up right where they left off.

Saga the brandWith less action and more dialogue-heavy pages, issue 33 isn’t as exciting as readers are used to. Vaughan has taken a risk with focusing the story on Upsher and Doff, two characters who are likable but certainly not main protagonists. We don’t quite know their role in the larger story, but they provide a different angle in which to view it. It’s clear these two have a story to tell, and it’ll be interesting to see what that tale turns into. To reintroduce the pair, Vaughan has to do a bit of backtracking, which weighs down the story a bit. However, Vaughan has a knack for bringing in real-world issues, even in a comic filled with the most unique and fantastic creatures. Upsher and Doff, two gay male humanoids, discuss how their relationship is less forbidden than Marko and Alana’s.

Fiona Staples’ impressive art shines in this issue as usual. The cover—with a lovely palette of greens—seems to show Upsher and Doff swimming on their home planet of Jetsam, a planet with inhabitants who live largely underwater. The vibrant colors and clean lines in and out are consistent as always. Staples does an excellent job keeping the pages fun and whimsical, even when the story gets serious. My favorite detail Staples brings into this issue is a flower known as a violent that sprouts in the trail of bloodshed (which we’ve seen on issue 30’s cover). Violents have a lily-like shape, and the petals are green with a sunburst of yellow right in the middle. They also have thin red sepals that shoot out from underneath the petals. Whose bloodshed have the violents flowered for?

Upsher and Doff aren’t the only familiar faces we see in this issue. In the last couple pages, the journalists are hot on Marko and Alana’s trail, where they crash-landed in the previous issue. We’re reunited with an old friend (and a companion), who we weren’t sure would ever be the same again. Putting these three characters together will surely lead to an exciting climax in the issues to come.

Issue 33 narrows the focus on Upsher and Doff, which isn’t the most exciting plot point in the arc; however, it’s clear Vaughan has a plan, and the last few pages make that clear. Staples’s art continues to impress, and Saga remains as addicting as ever.