By Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Saga is one of those gems that speaks to people on a profoundly personal level. This is no particularly easy feat when the story is placed in such a bizarre setting. However, Vaughan & Staples have been touching the hearts, exciting the minds, and tickling the funny-bones of fans and critics alike since their first issue over one year ago. Issue #14 may not push the central story much further, but it is brimming with the special moments that make this series so incredible.
Brian K. Vaughan has slowly been introducing a few new characters over the past couple of issues, and our glimpse of them is equally brief in issue #14. However, the highlights of the latest installment deal with some very deep interactions between some of the central characters. One of the most powerful moments of the series occurs when Heist realizes that the main protagonists have been touched enough by his subtly subversive writing to actually live out his philosophy, and proceeds to buckle at the knees while simply stating “A Night time Smoke. You read it. You got it.” Of course, this is followed by him vomiting on the converts’ infant daughter, but that is beside the point! There are some very powerful ideas contained within the pages of Saga, however subtle their execution may be at times. This is actually well-mirrored in the importance of Heist’s books and their seemingly benign nature which conceals a much deeper philosophy. Of course, the seriousness and emotional side of this story is perfectly balanced by the well-crafted humor which typically follows. Equally powerful, the conversation which takes place between Marko’s mother and Heist really helps reinforce the fact that there is still an ongoing war throughout the galaxy, and draws further attention to the powerful personal loss which is unavoidable in this type of situation.
The artwork provided by Fiona Staples has been equally well-received by fans and critics, and remains among the most consistent work in the industry. Every issue is clearly given an equal amount of love and attention, and this is no different in Saga #14. One of the most highly praised aspects of her work tends to be with regard to character facial expressions. This helps to convey the emotional nature of the story in an even more palpable manner; the interaction between Slave Girl and everybody’s favorite, Lying Cat, is a perfect example of this, as you can see the pained expression on her face with such clarity as she states that she is dirty inside because of the things she was forced to do, to which Lying Cat responds in typical fashion, “Lying,” as the pained expression on the young girl’s face vanishes to be replaced with a relieving smile. Aside from the beautiful character rendering in issue #14, the backgrounds remain as excellent as ever. While the characters are given a suitably more prominent role, the backgrounds seem to exist as fantastically painted landscapes which almost bring the foreground action off of the panel.
Saga is more than worthy of all of the awards and praise it has received, and the latest installment avoids any deviation from the excellence that has come to be expected from this book. Although the central plot has seemingly remained in place for a couple of months, each issue remains perfectly consistent in its delivery of powerfully emotional and particularly heart-felt moments. This really is one of the best titles currently available; unique, exciting, humorous, powerfully deep, and beautiful are all applicable descriptors in this case.