Story by: Brian K. Vaughan
Art and Cover by: Fiona Staples
Once again, in this issue, Brian K. Vaughan features three main groups to propel the plot forward. Vaughan expertly uses this tactic to show just how close the storylines are to converging. Every month, the tension keeps building and the urgency of each group’s mission continues to develop naturally without feeling forced. When will Hazel ever reunite with her parents? They’re so close, yet still so far away.
As expected, Marko, Alana, and Prince—er—Sir Robot IV attempt to arrive on Landfall just as Noreen is arranging for Hazel to escape. The mandatory camaraderie between the three while they put their plan into action is quite comical. Even when stakes are high, Vaughan is able to weave in comedic relief. Not only does Vaughan have a knack for creating unique and interesting characters, but he gives each of them a distinct and memorable voice.
Sir Robot IV steals the show and begrudgingly disguises himself as Count Robot LX to try to deactivate Landfall’s defenses. As he tells Alana, “You people are filthy racists who think every Robot looks the same.” The disguise works, which gives Marko the opportunity to use a crash helm (a helmet used for teleportation) to rescue his daughter and mother from the detention center. As Marko starts to teleport to Landfall, Sir Robot IV tells Alana, “I realize this is the last thing one is ever supposed to say . . . but I have some idea what you must be going through. And I wish your family success.” It seems Squire has turned Sir Robot IV into a softy! However, Vaughan just gives us a taste of the rescue mission and leaves us with a cliffhanger. We won’t know for sure what happens until next month. Unfortunately, Marko may get there too late, as it seems that Hazel has convinced her grandmother, Klara, to let Noreen help her escape on a ship. Also, the crash helm can only transport two at a time. Will he sacrifice himself to save his daughter and mother? Although the search for Hazel has gotten a bit formulaic, Vaughan keeps the story captivating, as he pulls a bait-and-switch on the characters.
Through Doff’s contact, Zlotey, the Will’s group finds out Sir Robot IV has been hiding out on the Serpentine Belt. The Will seeks revenge on Sir Robot IV for killing his beloved Stalk, which is one storyline in this arc that falls a little flat. Perhaps Vaughan is using the Will’s revenge mission as some sort of filler to advance his narrative. It may not be a coincidence that Zlotey has a Lying Cat as well, and we haven’t seen the Will’s for many issues. Regardless, the Will just misses Sir Robot IV and comes across a mighty force to be reckoned with.
Fiona Staples’s masterful art is consistently beautiful in this issue. Even in an issue with a lot of variety—luscious landscapes, dangerous space travel, tense character interactions, and so on—Staples pulls everything together as a cohesive masterpiece. As always, the cover not only offers a striking visual but a deeper meaning. It features Klara getting a tattoo of a spinning wheel, which may symbolize change and the passage of time. Hazel is growing up and already becoming independent. Prince Robot IV denounced his title to live a simpler life with his son. The Will is completely delusional, listening to the dead Stalk. It seems change is never-ending. Perhaps the tattoo is foreshadowing a major death, as Aurora in Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger on the spindle of the spinning wheel and falls into a deep sleep, or a death-like state. We’ve seen Barr, Marko’s father, cast a sleep spell on Alana in issue 7. But it seems this tattoo may represent something a bit more ominous than someone waiting for true love’s kiss.
Vaughan keeps up the pace as the story builds on the pieces from last issue. Marko, Alana, and Hazel have yet to reunite, and it seems the closer they get, the more they’re pulled apart. We may be in for something shocking in the issues to come.