Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Saga Book 5 (#25-30) NSFW

NSFW: Pregnant sex!

"Cheer up beard of sorrow" - Yuma

Summarising Saga is getting to be a big task as there are so many plot threads and characters in play it defies easy condensing.  But I will try.  The heart of the story is that a planet called Landfall and it's moon Wreath are at war and have been for a very long time.  Wreathian soldier Marko, a horned male gave himself up on becoming a pacifist and was overseen as a P.O.W by female Landfall soldier Alana who has wings.  They fell in love and ran away, having a daughter Hazel at the start of book one.  Both governments want to get a hold of them, Landfall sent Prince Robot IV to chase them down, Wreath hired a bounty hunter called The Will.  While Prince Robot IV was away his wife gave birth to a boy and she was murdered by a lower class Robot janitor called Dengo who took off with the Princeling to serve his revolutionary agenda.  The Will meanwhile is in a coma after being stabbed by the hallucinating girl he saved from a sex slave ring and called Sophie.  She, his pet Lying Cat and Marko's ex-fiance Gwendolyn are seeking a cure for him and have been joined in their quest by The Will's sister The Brand.  There was a two year time skip at some point and Hazel is now a toddler. After hiding out on a planet called Gardenia where Alana got an acting job to keep them, Marko lost his temper with her over her use of drugs. He lashed out at her and although immediately contrite she sent him away.  He returned to the rocketship where they live later only to see it hijacked by Dengo and fly off without him.  Now he and Prince Robot IV have discovered they can use a little alien shepard called Ghus's ability to connect with his herd to track the ship which has one of his animals aboard as Hazel's pet. The future Hazel provides retrospective narration and opinion. Brian K. vaughan provides the words and Fiona Staples gives us the pictures.  Let's continue.
War.  What IS it good for?
Hazel tells us that for centuries the goverments on Landfall had relied on a draft to fight the war with.   Playing up Wreathian atrocities to increase application to gain revenge even as the mounting figures dampened enthusiasm to fight.  The draft was eventually replaced with an all volunteer force those who came to the call came out of many reasons; geuine patriotism, looking for adventure, escaping a bad situation, the only thing in common was they were as "poor as shit".

The war shifted to new fronts, to augment their dwindling forces both sides pretty much press-ganged the local where they were fighting into joining their respective armies.

Hazel: "Before long, almost everyone in the universe had skin in the game."

However the further the fighting was from Landfall and Wreath, the more an uneasy peace developed on those planets.  Civilians could enjoy pursuits other than the more pressing life or death, everyone sitll supported the troops but in an "abstract way".  For the majority back on Landfall the war was something that would never impact their lives.

Hazel: "Lucky them".

We then return to young Hazel being led through the snow by Dengo, who still has the Princeling slung round his front.  We're given a quick introduction to Dengo, the Robot seeking revenge over both sides waging the war, because his people had been dragged into it and they care more about the war than their people. 
Dengo with the Princeling and Hazel.
His son dying of a treatable disease had motivated him to kill the Princess and take the Princeling.  Taking Hazel hostage and escaping in her families wooden rocket hadn't been part of his plan but he grabbed the oportunity Hazel's existence provided with both hands.

Inside the rocket, Alana, still in withdrawal from the drugs she got addicted to in the last book, and Klara her step-mother are surviving being locked up in one of the rockets rooms by milking the giant pet of Hazel, the one Ghüs can detect. 
Alana and Klara.
They've been held like this for three months, and due to the place having three suns that never seem to all setat once, the ghostly Izabel hasn't been able to appear. Klara says they need to fight back and breaks off some wood saying Alana needs to stab Dengo in the neck which is their weak point.

Meanwhile, The Brand, Sophie and Gwendolyn are looking for dragon semen on the planet Demimonde.  They find a dragon and it rears up in front of them.  The Brand says she'll draw it's attention while they aim for it's boy parts. "I don't think they are boy parts" says Sophie and the dragon covers them in a flood of unrine to attract others.  Who quickly appear.
Dragon jizz needed not dragon pee!
Finally we check in on Marko and King Robot IV, with Ghüs and Yuma.  Robot IV and Marko are at each other's throats the whole time.  Yuma tries to break up the fight they are having, but Marko says if it wasn't for Yuma selling his family out they wouldn't be in this mess.  He leaves the bridge saying, "you all disgust me".  Ghüs looks upset, "what did I do?"  Marko goes to his quarters, picks up Hazel's doll and starts weeping.

Hazel: "...it had been months since dad and I had last seen each other.... and it would be years before the two of us would see each other again."

Marko.
Years?! YEARS!!!!?!  BKV you're killing me. Back with Alana, Dengo tells her he's enacted his plan B.  Alana says no, you've not bought The Rebellion here?  Dengo says "'Rebellion' is for teenage girls.  I called The Revolution"

On a supply stop Marko comes across a fellow Wreathian robbing the shop. He attacks him and starts beating the guy senseless until Ghüs comes in and asks what he is doing. Marko stops hitting him but Robot IV and Yuma say they should kill him now he's seen Marko.  Marko says he said "no killing".  Robot IV says he still thinks that's "fucking asinine" but whatever.  Yuma steals some drugs off the mans body and says she'll erase the surveillance footage.
The Revolution (will not be televised).
Back with Alana who is hysterical at the thought of The Revolution getting ahold of Hazel.  She says they are terrorists, but Dengo says they pratice asymmetrical warfare because their opponents, Landfall and Wreath are so powerful.

Alana says Dengo cannot trust them. She says she emphathises with him over the loss of his son, and that because he has been good to Hazel she knows he's a decent man.  He says he appreciates her concern, "but the die has already been cast".

The Brand, Gwendolyne and Sophie are having a hard time against the dragons.  But Sophie has an idea, she thinks the size of their brains proves they are intelligent and Gwendolyn should readjust her translation necklace to talk to them.  Gwendolyn does and Sophie yells "Everyone be friendly!"

The dragons stop attacking. Sophie apologises to them and tells them what they are looking for.  The lady dragons say all the bull dragons bar one have beenn hunted to exctinction.  One is left on "Hill Dontgo", the dragons start to leave but as they do so the leader says of the final bull, "...he is very, very unkind."  On a hill, a man with the body of a spider is watching them through a sniper-scope.
Just Say No, Marko!
On the ship with Marko and the others, he is in his quarters brooding when Yuma comes to see him.  She assures him they'll get his family back. He says he wants them safe but doesn't expect him to take him back because he is "sick".  Because of the violence in him that he tries so very hard to repress but ended up with him lashing out at the woman he loves.

Yuma is somewhat high and not really able to give advice.  He wants to know why a Wreathian veteran would be carrying the drug "Fadeaway" she stole.  She says most veterans use it.  Marko asks if she pushed it on Alana, but Yuma says "she leapt with open arms".

Marko: "Why? What is it she wanted to feel so badly?"

Yuma: "Peace".

The Revolution have arrived at the wooden rocketship.  The leader is a snake bodied man called Quain.  When Alana and Klara try to prevent him taking Hazel he is able to put them to sleep with one command. 
"I've made a huge mistake" thinks Dengo.  Probably.
When Quain realises Dengo is the man who assassinated Princess Robot IV and kidnapped the Princeling he gives him a huge hug and says "brother you and I are going to do wonderful things".

Hazel: "This was the moment Dengo began to accept my mom had been right.  How could he have forgotten everything he learned as a father."

We than join Prince Robot IV who is having a sex dream involving his dead wife. He wakes up and restlessly looks for Marko only to come across him lying on the floor foaming at the mouth, "bugger fucking all" he sighs.
Marko and Alana do have Lots of sex don't they?
We then get a flashback to Alana and Marko having sex while she was pregnant.  She asks him to "come on, pull my hair.  Spank that fat ass". He stutters that he can't, "I'm not going to strike the mother of my child."  She says she just wants to feel sexy again.   She says she just wants a little rough trade, so what's the matter?

Marko confesses that he hit a girl once, "it was the worst day of my life."  He was seven years old.  His next door neighbours young girl had been practicing her fire spells on his family's dog.  Seeing someone hurt something so defenceless made something "snap" inside him.  Alana says it's not like he murdered her, but Marko says he may as well have done.  The very worst part was seeing his father's disappointment.

Then Alana turns into a mop headed creature saying "then why did you attack me?"  She say no one is buying his "tortured pacifist routine" and she turns into Hazel's doll as a demon bursts out from inside her. It says "you drove your family away. And they're never coming back!"  The flashback is in fact the tortured dreams the drugged Marko is having.
Prince Robot IV and Ghus find the overdosing Yuma and Marko.
Yuma is in a bad way as well, she manages to say she got a bad batch of Fadeaway and if they aren't rescued from it they'll trapped in their own minds forever. They try calling Poison Control but the line is busy. Ghüs says The Robot Kingdom has the best doctors, they should call them.  Robot IV says he can't because he is on the run, Marko will have to die. But Ghüs says they'll never take on Dengo without Marko's help so reluctantly Robot IV agrees to call.

Marko is trapped in a spiral of memories.  He is a soldier fighting a battle, but a major attack he launches hits a civilian car, killing the father and leaving the son alive next to his dead body.  His memories flash all over the place, fighting, being a kid, being with Alana.  Meanwhile Robot IV calls his private physician and manages to get some confidential advice on what to do.  They need to make them purge and Robot blood is mildly toxic to other species so they can use that.

Marko is now reliving the memory after he hit the girl as a child.  Silently his father Barr pulls off Marko's top then unbuckles his belt and begins beating Marko with it.  With each hit he remembers the war, Alana and finally Hazel.  Then he wakes up. Yuma apologises for his first hit being that way.  "It was perfect" says Marko.  He wouldn't do it again but now he finally gets Alana.

Marko: "And I think I finally understand myself again.  And I know what I have to do now... I'm going to find the man who ripped my family away from me.  And I'm going to cut his fucking head off."

We then join The Brand and Sophie having a fireside chat while Gwendolyn sleeps.  "So yeah. That's what abortion is" says The Brand as we come into a conversation halfway through.  Sophie says it's cool knowing things like that, people don't want to tell her things because she's a kid.  The Brand says people usually ask what it feels like to kill.  "How does it feel?" asks Sophie.
The Brand and Sophie chat.
The Brand says really she hasn't killed that many people.  She is more about intimidation, negociation "and the occasional broken nose."  When she did kill it was "not great".  Sophie says The Will didn't seem to mind killing much.  The Brand says he always was "pretty direct". 

She tells Sophie that when they cure The Will he'll go right back to what he was doing before, "are you sure you're OK with that?" Sophie says that maybe the universe is better off not having certain people in it, and the spider-bodied man comes walking up aiming all his guns at The Brand.  "Halvor" says The Brand.

Back with Alana and co. she, Klara and Hazel are carried, still unconcious, to The Revolution's spaceship.  Alana begs Dengo when they are alone.  He says The Revolution are his allies, Alana says "you stopped believing that the second they opened their mouths".
Alana talks some sense into Dengo.
He mumbles that what can one man do to stop them?  Alana says the snakeman's charm powers don't work on Robots, if he takes him, she and Klara can handle the others.  She swears that they are the only way they'll get him and the Princeling out of this situation alive.

On Marko and Robot IV's ship, Yuma is crying.  When Ghüs comes to give her the news they are in the same system as he felt Hazel's pet "Friendo" in, she says to him "I'm a strung out, backstabbing, useless old cunt."  Ghüs says she makes the ship smell nice with her flowers, she says he's sweet and wouldn't understand.  Ghüs frowns and says "Ghüs has been a lot of things in his day.... but sweet is not one of those things."
The Robot King wants his wayard son back home.
He says she's been doing her best to fix her mistakes, she says she's just made Marko more unstable.  Then the ship goes to red alert.  A ship has appeared from the Robot Kingdom to take Prince Robot IV back, the doctor did rat him out.  The Robots aboard say if he fails to comply, "you will be stripped of all titles... and then sentenced to death for treason against your kingdom".  Robot IV thinks they are bluffing, until they fire on them. "Battle stations" yells Marko.

Back with The Brand, Halvor stands down when Gwendolyn holds him up from behind.  Then he explains he is here on behalf of his dead sister, The Stalk, who was The Will's lover for a while.  He wants Prince Robot IV dead for killing her, they tell him The Will is in a coma and can't do anything right now. 

Halvor hands them a giant eardrum from the skull of the beast that formed part of The Stalk's ship that Prince Robot IV took.  He tells them they need to be round the other side of the moutain to find the male dragon.  He leaves saying revenge is a luxury only those without children to support can indulge in.

We join Alana and her family in a bad situation.  The Revolution have agreed to hand Hazel over the the Wreathians.  Desperately Alana breaks free of her captor and grabs a sword, but Quain says "Be Still" and she freeze in place and as Hazel is taken away she can only move enough for a tear to trickle down her cheek.
Yuma sacrifices herself.
Onboard Marko and Robot IV's ship things also look bad.  There's a warning light that something is wrong in the engine room so Robot IV orders them to go and check it out.  There is a fuel leak, but unfortunately whoever goes in to patch it up won't survive. Ghüs readies himself to go, but Yuma conks him on the head with a fire extinguisher.  She goes into the furnace and as the flames start to cook her, fixes the fuel leak.

Hazel: "So here's to another victim of this Goddamn war, a woman who at least managed to die exactly as she lived.  High as fuck."

The Revolution show the Wreathian high command Hazel and confirm that in return for her a few hundred of their imprisoned bretheren.  The Wreathian high command also order Alana be killed and Klara too, much to her anger and she spits something out in Wreathian.
The Revolution negociate Hazel's fate.
Because she is being held by Dengo, the Wreathian commander notices him for the first time and says "is that  fucking android?!"  Quain speaks up for Dengo, but the commander says they'll never in a million years negociate with those "death machines".  Quain says he is negociating with The Revolution not Dengo.  But the commander says this could scuttle the arrangement.  Coldly Quain says "I'm afraid Mr. Dengo's service will no longer he needed".
Sophie, The Brand and Gwendolyn finally find the cave the male dragon is in.  And boy is he male.  A whole double page spread of maleness and huges gobs of semen everywhere.  They have a brief argument about who is going down there to collect the jizz, The Brand says it's her job, but Sophie looks thoughtful.

Then we're back with Robot IV and Marko trying to evade the Robot Kingdom ship.   Yuma's sacrifice brings the engine back online and after an argument about whether to fight or run, they run, having just enough fuel left for a "hopscotch" and they disappear from view leaving the Robots observing that he isn't a prince anymore. 
Marko, Robot IV and Ghus make planetfall.
When they come out the otherside, Robot IV says he just pointed the ship where Ghüs said it was and jumped there. Ghüs comes up and tells them of Yuma's sacrifice.  Before they can fully process it they hit something and the bridge controls explode.  Leaving them plummeting to the closest planet.

On that planet Alana is begging for once last chance to say goodbye to Hazel before they kill her.  On the bridge one of The Revolution is about to kill Dengo with a zap from her sword when Alana pushes him clear of it. Dengo then blows Quain's head apart as he is immune to his hypnosis.  He tells Hazel and Klara to go back to the treehouse where they'll be safe.

The Brand gets ready to collect some dragon spooge, but before she can, Sophie gets down there and scoops some up.  Then the dragon awakes and The Brand rushes down pushing Sophie out of harms way but getting bitten in half for her trouble.  Gwendolyn fires off a powerful magic spell which sends the male shuffling off further into the cave.  Sophie can only look at the bisected The Brand and say "I'm sorry."
And farwell to The Brand too.
Marko, Robot IV and Ghüs pick themselves up out of the wreckage.  Meanwhile, distracted by the sounds of fighting elsewhere on the ship, the two members of The Revolution who were going to kill Alana get distracted and turn their backs on her.  She pulls a grenade out of a bandolier worn by one of them and says she will drop it, because she doesn't care about living if it's not with her child.

They let her go and she locks them in behind her. She bumps into Dengo who says she was right about everything.  He hands her his gun and says he is off to get something important from the engine room.  Klara has Quain's magic staff and is making her way out of the ship with Hazel when they are confronted by more of The Revolution.

Alana is outside now and Dengo comes out with the fuel cell of The Revolution's ship.  Alana is carrying the Princeling now. They kill another member of The Revolution who was outside and Alana realises to her horror this means Klara and Hazel are still on the ship.  They are hostages again and The Revolution's ship suddenly takes off via hopscotch with them still aboard.
And just like that, Hazel is gone.
Dengo says they won't get far without the fuel he took.  Angrily Alana turns on him and points the gun at him and when he asks what she is doing she says:

Alana: "What I've been trying to do ever since you barged into my life.  You gullible retard!"

Dengo says his son was special needs so don't use that word, "fuck your dead kid!" says Alana knocking him to his knees.  Dengo says killing him won't bring Hazel back, Alana says "it's going to feel amazing".  Then she sees Marko coming up over the ridge.  She tells him Hazel is gone, and she wants to kill Dengo.  Marko says he want's to kill him too. "But that's not who we are" says Marko and they embrace.
Alana and Marko together again.
Then Robot IV appears and Dengo starts speaking to him, showing him an image of his dead son and starting to tell the story of how he died.  "Fascinating" says Robot IV drily and blows a hole through Dengo's head.  Then he takes and cradles his son gently, "my boy, my baby boy".

The Will wakes up in hospital.  The elixir worked.  Gwendolyne hands him the package from Halvor then they break the news about The Brand.  The Will has a vicious response, "you selfish little cunt!  Why couldn't you just left me to rot? Get the fuck away from me!  All of you!"  And sadly Gwendolyn, Sophie and Lying Cat depart, leaving a greiving The Will with The Brand's dog Sweet Boy.

Hazel: "Nobody knew exactly what kind of nightmare had been awakened that evening...but in time, my parents would find out."

We end this volume with an insect like teacher going into a classroom of horned kids.  Amongst the children there is Hazel, look about five or six.  "It was time I started my education".
Aaaand cue cliffhanger into Book Six.
Once again, a truly compelling story written to achieve some almost sadistic, end of book cliffhangers.  I was sorry to lose The Brand so soon after she had been introduced she was a pretty cool character.  Those ominous words about The Will's recovery is another future plotline future Hazel is teasing us with.  I don't believe anyone merits death but man, Dengo was such a selfish idiot he really bought it upon himself.  I'll be interested to see if now Robot IV has his son if he'll be accepted as a Prince again or will he be on the run from his own people avoiding charges of treason.  Marko making peace with the violence inside him and realising fear of it doesn't have to drive every decision he makes was a nice bit of character building.  Alana didn't have as much to do this volume than be a hostage, but her words managed to help Dengo see the error of his ways.  Another time-skip, this time of several years, it'll be interesting how the various characters have developed in that time.  The final page shows Hazel is in a class with Wreathian children so her mixed race heritage is going to be tested I'm sure of it. Brian K. Vaughan's writing remains a delight, the easy naturalistic speech helps everything feel more "real" as it were.  Fiona Staple's art reminds me of manga.  Not in how it looks, but how she uses economy of line to create maximum expressiveness.  Sure it means her backgrounds are barely there, but I don't read comics to look at walls now.  Tune in next month for volume six.

4 comments:

  1. I'm all caught up the series now with book six, I can't believe I have to wait six months to find out what happens next. this series is so good.

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  2. I haven't read book six yet! But I'll finally have some spare cash next week to buy it finally. Then I shall also mourn the fact it'l be six months until the next one.

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  3. Hey, I like detailed backgrounds! You can get lots of cool details on walls. It helps create the impression of a fully-realised universe. That's why I prefer artists who cram in loads of incidentals, like Chris Weston.

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  4. I can see the arguments for and against walls. What I like about Fiona Staples minimalist arc is there has been no need for fill-in artists to pick up the slack. Which gives it a visual continuity that very few series have with their rotating artist pools.

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