SAGA #52 continues Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples colorful, futuristic space opera with an intense character driven issue. With quite a few plot threads lingering, this issue does a great job moving them along. It also has one of the more shocking endings I’ve seen from the series. With a few of the characters enjoying some relaxing time on the beach, Squire (Princeling) sneaks off on his own.

The series’ signature dark humor permeates all of the interactions and we even get a vagina monster in full splash page!

SAGA and Why it’s Special (to Us!)

SAGA #52 Wants You To Relax

The issue starts with Hazel, Petrichor, Ghus, and (Formerly Prince) Robot playing in the water. The sight of Ghus sitting on Petrichor’s shoulders is sure to make anyone chuckle. While the two spar, Petrichor and Robot talk about how they have to leave. Hazel’s sadness at this is palpable, as after Ghus knocks her into the water, she is picked up by Robot. Hazel laments Robot’s leaving, and she hopes to see him “after the war…” with Robot quietly echoing the sentiment.

SAGA #52
What A Lovely Cover! Courtesy of Image Comics

While the four play in the water, Marko questions Upsher about how he came to join their family. Upsher relates a quick story about how he and Doff had been on the family’s trail since the business at Cleave. The two then share a quick heart to heart on the nature of violence. Marko confronts Upsher after he makes an off-hand comment about taking a life.

Alana arrives in a hurry, interrupting the beach reverie, to ask if anyone has seen Squire. Marco armors up after realizing Squire has gone missing, and the group (sans Hazel) go out to find the young robot.

The Darker Side

Separate from the fun and games, Squire has run away to attempt to rejoin the Robot Kingdom. While walking through a field, Squire is quickly subdued by a cute worm monster, which happens to be connected to the aforementioned giant monster. Meanwhile, Ianthe has lost The Will after killing Doff last issue, and is running around in pursuit. She finds the immobilized Squire and frees him. Finally Robot stumbles across The Will while searching for his son, and Robot is wounded by The Will’s lance. The last image of the issue is the captured Robot’s face, flashing an image of a tied up and gagged Hazel.

SAGA #52
Of course The Will writes in cursive. Courtesy of Image Comics

The issue does an excellent job of presenting the duality between the characters, and their current situations. In the beginning we have the light banter and fun of the beach crowd. The fun and games is paired with Marko and Upsher’s conversation on death and the nature of taking a life. While The Will leaves a taunting note for Ianthe which is written, of course, in elegant cursive. Then, we have Squire’s tiny childlike note written in halting script and signed both Squire and Princeling, with the former crossed out.

Everything Is Coming Together

While this series has never been shy about putting odd bedfellows together, SAGA #52 has some meetings a long time in the making. With Doff and Upsher having followed Marko’s family for some time, Upsher and Marko finally get a chance to talk. The two of them share their views on violence and how it differs from the other’s Marko’s being more opposed to it. Ianthe meeting Princeling and even saving him is quite interesting, given how up to now we’ve only seen her be cruel and calculating. The Will’s (cursive) letter even brings up Ianthe’s skinning his dog, Sweet Boy, and using him as a rug. However, as Squire is hugging her for saving him, her last line and facial expression implies she might have something in store for the young robot.

SAGA #52
Trouble finds a young Squire. Courtesy of Image Comics

Finally, the last and most important meeting has to go to Robot and The Will. All the way back in SAGA #5, when he was still Prince, Robot killed The Stalk. Since then, The Will has been dying to avenge her. Upon seeing him, The Will uses his extending lance to disable Robot’s arm and the two chat. The Will knows all about Marko and Alana’s presence on the Island, and even plans to finish them off next. Robot’s face shows an image of a bound and gagged Hazel while stating that if The Will spares him he “…knows a way no one will ever hurt either of us again.” I hope he’s bluffing.

Episode 84: Sex in Comics

The Art of SAGA #52

Fiona Staples artwork has always been a highlight of the series for me. Her use of color and the careful attention to character’s facial expressions is what puts this series in my top must-read list. From the fun on the beach to the deep, meaningful conversations, and even the little mushrooms Marko wants to use as make-shift flares, everything pops in this issue. I loved the way after Ianthe finds Squire, you’re almost convinced she’s concerned about him, but if you pay close attention, her eyes are narrowed in suspicion.

SAGA #52
Did you want to see Hazel riding Prince Robot’s shoulders? Of course you did! Courtesy of Image Comics

The real highlight of this issue is the cover. While they’ve never been a stranger to interesting covers, SAGA #52’s adorable poolside cover takes the cake. With naked Ghus, Petrichor’s intricate swimwear on an inner-tube, and Squire’s little floaties, I was instantly in love. As per usual for SAGA, though, the adorable cover belies the darkness within. While the series has always heavily relied on color, the bright tentacles of the creepy vagina monster (is it really SAGA without something like that?) stood out against the foreboding field it was housed in.

Where To Next?

That last panel has me looking forwards to next month even more. Is Robot going to betray Marko and Alana? Does Ianthe actually have a nice bone in her body, or will Squire be in for a rough time? I honestly don’t know and I can’t wait to find out next month.

 

SAGA #52 By Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
The creative team of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples hit it out of the park again in SAGA #52. With surprising meetings, terrifying monsters, and a rousing game of chicken, this issue is clearly settings up some major threads.
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