I feel like what I said about Saga the other day was rather inadequate, simply because there’s a lot more to it than just an exploration of the social dichotomy between violence and sex (okay, that’s actually a broad enough topic that now as I’m thinking over what happens in the first three volumes I’m seeing that everything really does echo back to that central motif, but that’s beside the point; the series explores so many different facets of how sex and violence impact our lives and the choices we make that it really feels like it’s hitting on a bunch of different topics).
Since I just kind of rambled randomly last time, let me give you the basic premise of the series (as entertaining as it was to talk about Prince Robot IV and that douchebag Gale, I’m sure anyone who’s not read the series will be a little befuddled by these allusions). Alana and Marko are new parents who are on the run after defecting from opposing sides in an ongoing galactic war. The ongoing conflict is based around a dispute between the native inhabitants of the planet Landfall, who all happen to have wings of some kind, and the inhabitants of its moon Wreath, who all sport horns on their heads. This conflict has become so hostile and bloody that the two worlds agreed to export their fighting to other planets, and have consequently drawn pretty much the whole galaxy into the fight. Alana and Marko have tired of this situation and are now being chased by authorities from both sides, since their union (and newborn child, Hazel) undermines the ongoing propaganda that both governments have been disseminating to keep the populace invested in the war.
Pursuing the family are Prince Robot IV, a combat veteran on the Landfallian side who is pressed into service chasing Alana and Marko when he just wants to settle down with his wife and soon-to-be-born child, and The Will, a member of a freelance mercenary/bounty hunter organization who has been hired by the Wreath government to track down and eliminate the fugitives. Both men are interesting, fleshed out characters who echo Alana and Marko’s ambitions with their own desires to get away from their lives of violence and settle down with families.
Threaded throughout the story is the idea that Alana and Marko are kind of quirky for wanting to be pacifists (it’s a whole thing where they become convinced this is the life philosophy for them after reading a subtext-laden romance novel about a rock monster and the daughter of a quarry owner who lead a quiet life together instead of being mortal enemies like everyone expects; it’s both poignant and silly that the foundational text for our heroes is a pulpy romance of which no one thinks very much), with everyone else calling them disgusting for subverting the expectation that all Landfallians and Wreathians should hate one another (and could conceive a child together; much of the war propaganda seems to revolve around the idea that the two species are so different that they can’t even interbreed; I suppose it’s a good example of how people tend to demonize others in order to make violence against them more palatable). This very straightforward, kind of vanilla, heterosexual coupling gets juxtaposed all the time with various other sexual activities that span the gamut and which none of the characters really bats an eye at (there’s a scene in one of the later chapters of the series where the douchebag Gale, while making a veiled threat against a couple of reporters who are trying to learn more about Alana and Marko’s story, remarks on how backwards these reporters’ home world is for still discriminating against gay people; this is all a very mild example of the progressive nature of Saga‘s universe) as a way of highlighting just how absurd narrowly defined sexual taboos are.
The irony of Alana and Marko’s quirkiness is that they’re pursued by people who really want the same thing as them. Prince Robot IV is coping with severe PTSD after two near death experiences, and he’s only involved in the hunt for Alana and Marko because the douchebag Gale is coercing him through threats to his wife. If not for that pressure, you get the impression that Prince Robot IV would be happy to let Alana and Marko escape without any care that they’re deserters or potentially dangerous to the war effort. The Will, in comparison, doesn’t have a family of his own, but it becomes clear early on that he has aspirations of leaving behind the freelancer life and settling down, although he becomes further embroiled in the chase after Prince Robot IV inadvertently kills a close friend while pursuing Alana and Marko; if not for that personal vendetta, The Will would be content to give up on the contract.
There’s probably much more that could be said, but I think I’ll leave it here for now. This is a series that’s best digested in small chunks, and I think I’ve already put too much out there to chew on.