Monday, December 26, 2016

Saga, Vol. 6 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

I originally hoped Saga had a plan to tell a single large story across some medium-sized number of comics issues -- say thirty or fifty. On the other side, my worry was that it would get dragged out for as long as it was still popular, since the set-up could lead to endless one-more-damn-thing complications.

(Why? Well, Saga is a single story: how Hazel grew up and found a peaceful place to live, and possibly how she and her parents brought peace to the galaxy, if we're being massively optimistic. Single stories can be complicated with side-plots, but do have to end. Contrast that with set-ups that can generate multiple plots from the same cast -- Fables is a good recent example of the type. Those could run nearly indefinitely, as long as there are more stories to tell or new characters to bounce around. But a single story can't be spread too thin, or it will break in the middle. Vaughan's Ex Machina badly broke in the middle, for example.)

Saga, Vol. 6 collects issues thirty-one to thirty-six of the still-popular space opera series by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples, and I'm not sure whether to be optimistic or pessimistic.

On the positive side, the splitting-the-party issues in the last book have mostly been resolved, and Hazel is growing up noticeably. That tends to show that the story is moving forward, with an end somewhere (even if distantly) in sight. But we are deep into the mid-thirties, nearly five years into Saga's run, and even Hazel's hints about the future state in which she's writing the narration are pretty non-specific, leading to dark thoughts that Saga could be aiming for a hundred issues, or more, or no specific number.

I'm not going to talk about plot, because that's pointless in a long serial like this -- either I get into the minutiae of specific events in these pages, which are opaque to anyone who isn't caught up and tedious to anyone who has, or I try to drop back to the very beginning and explain everything up to this point, which is tedious to everyone (particularly me). Here's what I've written about previous volumes, in case you want to dig in or find something to yell at me about: one, two, three, four, five.

The only recommendation I can give is that I will be back for volume seven. At this point in a series, that's what counts: do you want to move on to the next piece, and see what happens next? I still hope there's a real ending somewhere out there, and not just five more years of middle, but I do appreciate that the comics-buying audience mostly disagrees with me.

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