By Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Saga is one of the best books on the stands, and has been since it was created, and for good reason. It has lovable characters, gorgeous art, and captivating narratives. But Saga is more than that. Saga is a book about families and how they change. Issue #48 is the culmination of the latest story arc, and, even though we haven’t seen the characters in a while, it delivers emotionally.
This story primarily follows Ghüs and Squire, two of Saga’s side characters. It’s a bit surprising at first, given how the rest of the arc has gone, but it doesn’t take much time to reacquaint with the two of them. Vaughan lets us into their more intimate thoughts, fleshing out their feelings and philosophies.
Squire especially shines. We finally start to see the person he’s growing up to be and the impact Prince Robot’s parenting has had on him. Like any other child would be without a parent, he’s struggling emotionally and still learning about what family is. Lucky for him, he still has Ghüs around to act in that capacity. The relationship between the two misfits is hopeful and refreshing, especially considering the finale of the previous story arc. Saga #48 proves that family is everywhere.
Staples’ art helps cement these touching conversations. Her panels have cinematography in their way, emphasizing moments and dialogue points. While Squire shows that he’s getting older and asking more difficult questions of Ghüs, Staples hones in on metaphoric images. The collaboration between Staples and Vaughan is clear in these moments, as well as the emotions Squire displays on his screen-face. She’s not just an ink jockey, she’s as much of a shaper of this world as Vaughan. Her skills with emulating light dominate this issue in the darker scenes, creating depth and making the panels feel lived in.
Not without praise is her work with facial expressions. Ghüs would not have his adorable reputation without her prowess. It’s easy to forget how ridiculous he is conceptually when Staples makes him more emotionally diverse than most real people. He’s a passionate miniature seal-man, and there’s no question about it.
Saga #48 meets the expectations of this series and expands itself thematically in a really beautiful way. Staples and Vaughan have here one of the few stories that is able to touch its readers and give them a sense of belonging. Even the letters column is evident of that. Readers of the series have an open dialogue with the creators that makes this section a surprisingly protective and open space. Saga makes the statement that family is everything, but we’re the ones that decide who our family is, regardless of gender, race, or even sentience.