Thursday, October 22, 2015

Saga: Volume Five » Review

In Saga: Volume Five, writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples present us with five new chapters in their sprawling space-epic.  If you've been following the series, you know that Volume Four ended on a bit of a low note. Shit continues to blow around in Volume Five, but I'm pleased to say that I'm either getting tougher or the storyline has stabilized a tad.  Many readers love the no-holds-barred aspect of Saga, but my heart can only take so much.

Don't get me wrong... Volume Five sees several character deaths, as well as plenty of gore, violence, and obscenity.  The Saga we know and love is still kicking.

In these five chapters, we switch around amongst three different locales and casts.  Hazel, Alana, and Klara have been taken away by Dengo, a rogue robot, who's stolen IV's baby son.  IV and Marko have teamed up and are in hot pursuit, taking baby seal look-alike Ghüs and Alana's old drug dealer, Yuma, along for the ride.  Our third principal plotline involves Gwen, Sophie, The Brand, and Lying Cat, in their quest to acquire dragon jizz to save the comatose bounty hunter The Will.

While Brian K. Vaughan should get tons of credit for his concept and script, Fiona Staples continues to take the series to the next level with her artwork.  As every critic and their mother have noted, Staples conveys the subtlest emotions with minimal, sparing lines.  It's flat-out incredible. Her panel arrangement is cinematic.  Her pacing is spot-on, utilizing that reaction shot before the revelation.  Remember the monster with the huge, warty balls earlier in the series?  We have something similar in Volume Five. This is our warning before we turn the page...

[caption id="attachment_837" align="aligncenter" width="518"] It's that bad.[/caption]

As for the writing, it's sparse and efficient, comprised of that mixture of English, bastardized Esperanto, and profanity we're now familiar with.  The characterization does not suffer for the brevity of language, however.  Saga is populated with a distinct and varied cast.  In regards to the major characters,  Volume Five sees Vaughan shift his developmental efforts away from Alana, who was a big focus of Volume Four, and towards Marko.  Remember how Volume Two delved into Marko's violent impulses and the reasons behind his pacifist turn? Volume Five takes Marko on a u-turn to some... interesting... places.

The pacing is not unlike that of a roller coaster. Because each chapter is released separately in comic book stores, many weeks apart, each short segment has its own plot triangle — up, up, up, up, do000000wn, up, down.  In this collection of five chapter segments, that makes for a lot of up and down.  Consuming Saga causes reading whiplash.  It's a wild ride, but a highly thrilling one.


  1. Gah! I floundered with my review of this instalment. Reading your review reminded me of all the things I failed to mention. You're just so prolific. :D

  2. You are too kind, Joy! :D I put some effort into this one. And then I kept editing to put in stuff I forgot! :D