Saga – Chapter Two
Saga was a massively hyped property prior to its release, which was the biggest comic event of the year to many minds, and yet it still managed to exceed all of those expectations: it was a bigger (forty odd pages for under four bucks), weirder ( TV headed Robot sex anyone?) but most of all better issue than anyone had any right to assume it would be (Full Review HERE). So where to go to from there? Now that we all know what the book actually is we could start properly imagining what its future plots would bring and now that we all know just how good it can be we felt entitled to a masterpiece more than we did a good read. By the end of that first issue author Brian K. Vaughn had put his protagonists in a very precarious position but it wasn’t them I felt fear for, no it was Brian’s fate that had me on the edge of my seat. How was he ever going to get out of this one?
Quite brilliantly of course. This second issue of Saga is an ideal follow up to the first in that it attempts to defy rather than exceed all of our set expectations. The issue opens with a character making a choice, where to call his agent; “Home or office?” his phone asks, “Office,” he replies as we cut to a stunning and alien seaside panorama, an anthropomorphized seahorse sitting anachronistically behind a desk. Given the two options provided you would expect ’office’ to be the one that leads to a cramped interior shot, free of imagination, but artist Fiona Staples never feels like taking the easy or expected option and this is clear throughout the entire piece; each and every panel is peculiar but perfectly so.
A page later, a mere three in to the issue, Vaughn follows Fiona’s lead by hitting us with a curveball of plot right off the bat. The man spent the first issue introducing us to these two lovers and The Will, a freelance bounty hunter hired to track them down; so of course it seems only reasonable to imagine that the overarching story of Saga will be the cat and mouse game taking place between both sides. So imagine my surprise when The Will’s call serves as a pseudo cease-and-desist, taking him off the case and writing him out of the story…for now. I doubt that anyone would have expected that. The cleverest of these twists however occurs on the cover which shows an alien hand reaching out towards the infant child at the centre of the comics story. We spend the entire issue wondering to whom this hand might belong only for the obvious culprit to avoid our gaze thanks to her being literally armless if not harmless. The reveal that follows (which I havn’t spoiled, don’t worry) is amazing, one of the coolest moments in a book built around shocking and awing it’s audience.
That’s not to say though that this is an altogether different book, nor that it’s a betrayal of the unique tone established last month. The books strange nomenclature never stops with the introduction of the Horrors and The Stalk, another aptly named tracker who in only the space of a supporting role manages to make herself a superb character; one that is, of course, different to that you would expect from the name and images above. If you were wondering, and you weren’t, the capitalisation discrepancy in the above names was intentional, the ’The’ thing is here shown to be not only intentional but a rule, as soon as the pair hear it they know exactly who this thing is , even if they don’t yet know what. These crazy terms still play into the comics sense of old-fashioned high adventure, to which those twists add, and this is all still offset by the decidedly adult dialogue between the baby-mama and dada.
Issue two is everything you could have wanted from a follow-up, despite never being anything that you would have expected. There is a bit of a missed opportunity in the overlaid narration which cuts off right in the middle of what appeared to be a developing framing device – marking out all the pursuers as the different kinds of visitors that new parents usually get – but besides that I wouldn’t change a thing – including the final page reveal of ’The Horrors’ that didn’t sit straight with me – even though none of the book is how I would have written it originally. So now i’m expecting issue three to be both brilliant and entirely unexpected; Vaughn just raised the stakes a second time. In his interlude this issue Prince Robot -clothed this time -wonders aloud why anybody would ever read a book; this right here is why.