Issue #5 picks up with Prince Robot IV, quite possibly the most bizarre character of recent comics’ history, sitting on a toilet while reading a book. I’m not sure where Vaughan gets his inspiration, but the bathroom could be a good guess. As usual, he takes something uncomfortable and makes it a weird mix of the mundane and surreal.
Vaughan has a penchant for catching readers off guard at moments like this before he reminds you that the story is anything but mundane. Hot on the trail of Marko, Alana, and their baby Hazel, Prince Robot IV gets back in the game as they are spotted while trying to escape the planet Cleave.
He uses this scene to offer competing views about violence and pacifism by placing Marko in the position of having to fight for his family and life. Vaughan never takes sides in an explicit way. Instead, he shows that it’s a grey area by cleverly using this scene to make the reader consider both arguments being made.
From there, he cuts back to the Sextillion episode from issue #4 with the morally ambiguous bounty hunter The Will as he tries to flee Sextillion with a child he saved from the sex trade. Vaughan really puts the clamps on the Wills’ lack of a conscience by putting him in a no-win situation where, like The Grinch, he must actually grow a heart.
Vaughan works hard at addressing some very modern issues in a way that isn’t preachy or didactic. Using Saga as a vehicle for addressing the ills of society has allowed him to intelligently examine issues of the human condition without becoming a political pamphlet.
The end of the issue feels like a Shakespeare comedy where, all that ends well is well. Most of the characters that fall on the evil side of things get theirs in the end, but there is a gentle reminder that the good guys are only given a temporary reprieve from the true dangers lurking ahead.
As always, Vaughan impresses with his ability to tell a well-developed story in a short issue. The dialogue continues to have an organic quality to it that keeps the characters real and fresh while the plot and pacing unfold in just the right way.
Artist Fiona Staples deserves as much credit as Vaughan for how interesting and exciting Saga is. Her art work fits his mad, future world with a style and flair that really makes the characters come off the page. The colors are popping in the right places, and each character feels like Vaughan characterizes them.
Without Staples ability to fly the freak flag that is Saga, the story wouldn’t work as well. There’s the perfect balance of bizarre, humor, and seriousness in her art that makes the story multi-dimensional.
Brian K. Vaughan’s writing, plotting and dialogue receive a solid A as does Staple’s and her fantastic approach to the art. Next month’s issue promised to be another bizarre ride.