Story by: Brian K. Vaughan
Art and Cover by: Fiona Staples
With issue 31 focusing on Hazel in a refugee camp, this issue sets its sights on Marko and Alana. Until the family is all back together, which might take some time, it seems each issue will focus on a different group. While shifting characters’ focus month to month could impede the pacing of some comics, this doesn’t happen with Saga. Brian K. Vaughan keeps the story fun, exciting, and endearing as two parents tirelessly search for their missing daughter. In this issue, Saga gets back to its roots and shows it really is a saga about the importance of family.
Marko and Alana head to the planet Variegate to uncover clues about their daughter’s whereabouts. The uncomfortable distance between them from a few issues back has faded, as the hunt for Hazel has brought them closer than ever. While some distance still exists, with them vowing not to be intimate until they find Hazel, their relationship is back to its usual dynamic. They interact like old friends, poking fun and joking to lighten the mood of such a stressful excursion.
Disguised as chic hipsters—Alana with a scarf and thick-framed glasses and Marko touting an unkempt beard—they fabricate a hostage situation to break into the hall of records. When the guard quickly realizes Alana doesn’t in fact work there, because “accounting never works late,” Marko uses dormi to knock him out. His commitment to nonviolence is admirable, but it may foreshadow trouble down the line. Marko uses more magic, or spelling as he calls it, to conjure a skeleton key to open a door made of dragon bone, and they find out their daughter is alive and detained on Landfall, Alana’s home planet.
As always, Fiona Staples’s art is fantastic and imaginative. The cover—depicting Marko and Alana from behind looking at a large, towering building (the hall of records)—sets the pace for the issue. They’re leaning against each other for comfort, with Marko’s arm around Alana’s shoulder, almost as if to say “We’re almost there.” Through the cover art, Staples captures a brief break in their journey, which is certainly out of character for these two unfaltering parents. They take this beautiful, but fleeting, moment to dwell on an unspoken worry—whether their daughter is still alive. They know where they’re going will have the answer.
The whimsical panels showing Marko using his spells are some of the issue’s best. Staples’s creativity really shines through with the new character designs—especially the three Constables, who come to arrest Marko and Alana for breaking and entering. The Constables are basically security guard Ghost Riders—they have flames shooting out of their sleeves and the tops of their helmets. Their flaming faces look like evil, grinning jack-o-lanterns. Although these guys are bad news, they aren’t the brightest. Marko and Alana easily convince them they’re part of the Last Revolution death cult, and they accidentally set the hall of records ablaze.
To escape the burning building, Alana flies out the window and wants Marko to jump at the right time to catch the treehouse—their ship. The expression on Alana’s face after he asks “You expect me to hitch a ride on a moving rocket?!” is drawn perfectly. As Hazel notes, “Her eyes said it all.” The trust and love between the two have never been stronger.
The love between our two favorite star-crossed lovers isn’t the only resurgence we see in this issue, however. In the last couple pages, we get an update on Ghüs and Friendo, who have been hanging around with Prince Robot IV, or Sir Robot since his demotion, and his Princeling, now named Squire. Marko and Alana are heading to them for help in finding Hazel. What will be their role in this adventure?
In this issue, Vaughan and Staples continue to impress. They take readers back to the comic’s beginnings with Marko and Alana fighting for their family at all costs, with always a little humor thrown in. We get a look at some fresh, incredibly interesting faces, and reunite with some old friends. Vaughan’s addictive and stimulating, yet relatable, storytelling and Staples’s ability to create innovative and extraordinary landscapes and characters make Saga a must-read every month.