It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Two and a half years, to be exact, even though it feels more like ten. That’s how long Saga, the hugely popular series from Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, has been on hiatus. They announced the break after releasing issue #54, as well as stating that the series had reached its halfway point. So as we get ready to jump back into the war between Landfall and Wreath, let’s remind ourselves of what exhilarating, hilarious, and vulgar things this family has been up to so far.
Spoiler Warning: This series has plenty of shocking reveals and deaths. If you haven’t read Saga before and don’t want to be spoiled, read no further.
Once a soldier for the Landfallian side of the war, winged Alana hesitated to kill civilians and was assigned prison duty, where she met imprisoned Wreath soldier Marko. After bonding over an anti-war novel, they fell in love and went on the run together. Already being chased by the armies they once pledged allegiance to, an even bigger target was put on their heads once Alana gave birth to Hazel, the first hybrid child of these two races. A wooden rocket ship provided them a way off-planet, and they were quickly joined by Marko’s mother, Klara, and Isabel, the ghost of a person who bonded her soul with Hazel.
Alana had always wanted to perform, so to make money while keeping their identities hidden, she joined a masked soap opera program called The Open Circuit. She was successful at it, but the stress led to her falling into a drug habit. Marko discovered this, and the two fought until Marko threw a bag of groceries at her. Alana kicked him out, but after the fight, a member of the robot lower class named Dengo captured her and Hazel. Dengo formed an uneasy alliance with The Last Revolution so that Hazel could be used politically, and although Alana escaped, both Hazel and Klara were taken by The Last Revolution. It was at this low point that she reunited with Marko. The two reconciled and spent years tracking Hazel down. Only with the help of their former enemy Prince Robot IV did they find her on a prison planet and take her and another inmate named Petrichor away.
Once they were reunited, Alana discovered that she was once again pregnant. It coincided with the group stopping on Phang, a war-torn comet. The group had trouble finding fuel, and when Isabel went looking, she was killed permanently by a Freelancer called The March. To make matters worse, the comet started to collide with another celestial object, and Alana was thrown across the ship. The group was able to escape, but in the aftermath, Alana lost the baby. Devastated, she went to a planet to have the baby removed, and due to the magical properties of her dead infant, saw a ghost of who the baby could have been. Later, the family eventually thought they had found a haven on a planet called Hebdomadal, but they were once again being hunted, now by a diplomat named Ianthe. Alana helped fight her off, getting one of her wings shot off in the struggle. By the end of issue #54, Alana and Hazel were safe, although unaware of what had happened to Marko.
Marko fought for Wreath, the moon surrounding landfall. Wreath is a much more fantastical place, with the horned citizens speaking a language called Blue that they use to perform spells. Marko was already sick of the violence the war perpetrated by the time he met Alana. That led to him making an oath not to kill, even as they were being hunted down. After fleeing with Alana and Hazel on the wooden rocket ship, his parents arrived and were initially hesitant over his new relationship. His father quickly made peace with Alana, though, and sacrificed himself to save the ship. Both Marko and his mother, Klara, took the loss very hard.
While Alana was on the soap opera, Marko was forced to isolate himself to protect his identity. This put a strain on their relationship, then exacerbated by Alana’s drug use. In his anger, he assaulted her by throwing a bag of groceries at her, something he never forgave himself for. Marko is then separated from his entire family when Dengo took Alana, Hazel, and his mother captive. He used the fact that Dengo took Prince Robot’s son as well as a means to team up. The two tracked the group down and were reunited with Alana and Squire, but Hazel remained lost to them for years.
Marko and Alana found solace in each other as they searched for Hazel and eventually found her on a prison reeducation planet. Klara was also there, but she chose to stay in the hopes of starting a revolution among the prisoners. On Phang, Marko had no choice but to break his oath of nonviolence when he killed The March, another freelancer trying to capture Hazel. When The Will killed Prince Robot IV in an act of revenge, Marko attacked and almost killed him in retaliation. He chose not to, in alignment with his beliefs but was then killed by The Will in a shocking end to issue #54.
“Every violent action, no matter how seemingly insignificant, sends ripples throughout the cosmos, inevitably causing more of the same.”Marko
Freelancers are this universe’s version of bounty hunters, have names starting with “The,” and frequently have an animal sidekick. Landfall and Wreath both wanted Alana and Marko dead, and The Will was the first Freelancer to get the job. Shortly afterwards, his world was shaken when he heard The Stalk, another Freelancer he was in love with, got murdered by Prince Robot IV. He swore vengeance against the Prince but quickly lost himself in a depressed spiral on Sextillion, an anything-goes sex planet. The fun ended, however, when he discovered that Sextillion was involved with child sex trafficking. The Will desperately wanted to free a girl trapped there but had no means to do so until he crossed paths with Gwen, Marko’s ex-fiance, who was working for the Wreath government. Together they rescued the girl, who he gave the name Sophie, but the people they had to kill to do so would have unforeseen consequences.
On a planet with hallucinogenic properties, Sophie accidentally stabbed The Will in the neck, putting an indefinite hiatus on the group’s union. While in a coma, Sophie, Gwen, and The Will’s sister (also named Sophie) procured the dragon sperm needed to save him (yup), but his sister died in the process. The Will learned about it when he regained consciousness, and the news depressed him even further. He left Gwen and Sophie and resumed his search for Prince Robot. With the forced help of two reporters, he traveled to Prince Robot’s last known location but only found Squire and Ghüs there. Ghüs then cut The Will’s fingers off to protect the young robot. Confronted with failure again, The Will got fired from his Freelancing agency for not taking assignments and failing drug tests.
Though already at a new low, The Will (now called Billy) sunk even further when he was taken and tortured by Ianthe, a diplomat whose husband he killed during the fight on Sextillion. Her sole focus was to inflict pain on Billy until she learned about Hazel and took her captive with her to track the group down. Once they encountered them, Billy found the opportunity to escape and, as luck or destiny would have it, finally found himself face to face with Prince Robot IV. He finally enacted his revenge by literally ripping the robot’s head off. Marko saw this happen and attacked but decided not to deliver the killing blow. Billy did not share that empathy, however, and promptly killed Marko.
Prince Robot IV
The Robot Kingdom resides on a dwarf planet and has long sided with Landfall in the war, making the upper class incredibly wealthy. Prince Robot IV, the heir to the throne, was dispatched by Landfall to look for Alana and Marko. It is on their trail that he heard the news of his wife’s pregnancy. His investigation led the Prince to the home of the author who wrote the book Alana and Marko bonded over. That does end up being where the two were hiding out, but the robot failed to capture them and almost got killed. Recovering on Sextillion, he was given the shocking news that his wife was murdered and his newborn son was kidnapped. The kidnapper was revealed to be Dengo, a lower-class robot that had taken his son to shed light on the inequality of The Robot Kingdom. Since Dengo also had Marko’s family, the two teamed up. Dengo quickly found himself in over his head and was killed mercilessly by Prince Robot.
Stripped from his royal title and going by the name Sir Robot, he was roped into helping Alana and Marko save Hazel from a prison planet. After the rescue, they all formed a found family, with Hazel and his son Squire bonding like siblings. Sir Robot even found romance with Petrichor, a trans woman from Wreath. Desperate to build a solid foundation for this new life, Sir Robot agreed to trade government secrets to reporters Upsher and Doff in exchange for him, Squire, and Petrichor to be given new identities. That new life would end up being one never lived, however. Billy finally had his revenge by killing Sir Robot.
Marko’s ex-fiance, Gwen, worked for the Wreath government and was one of the many trying to track down the family. She quickly realized he was not worth her time and instead enlisted former sex slave Sophie as her page and continued her work. She fell in love with The Will during their time together, but the two currently remain estranged.
A former child sex slave from Sextillion horrifically referred to as Slave Girl until she was rescued by The Will and Gwen. She was born on Phang, and like other natives there, could “hear” objects speaking to her until she was injured. The experiences on Sextillion traumatized her, but she began to heal with the help of Lying Cat, The Will’s sidekick. After helping to heal The Will, she becomes Gwen’s page and thinks that Marko remains a stain on Gwen’s reputation.
LC was The Will’s sidekick, a cat that can tell when someone is lying and responds accordingly. When shunned by The Will, she formed a strong connection with Sophie and stuck with her and Gwen when given a choice.
Upsher and Doff
The story of Alana and Marko would make waves across the galaxy, and that was just the kind of fame reporters Upsher and Doff were looking for. The writer and photographer were also in a relationship but had to keep it secret from their homophobic society. They were placed under a silent spell by The Will’s sister before they could uncover the truth, which was undone after her death.
Back on the trail, they instead found The Will, who forced them to help him. When he was captured, they were stranded with Squire and Ghüs for a while until joining up with Alana, Marko, and the rest of the group. They agreed not to write Hazel’s story and instead pursue a story Prince Robot had that could be just as big. But in the conflict with Ianthe, Doff is killed, Upsher shoots Ianthe, leaving her begging for death at the end of issue #54.
A Wreath prisoner, Petrichor is a trans woman that escaped with Alana and Hazel. She was hesitant about being around anyone from Landfall but ended up bonding with the group and saving them by learning of Phang’s impending doom. Her blossoming relationship with Sir Robot and plans to start a new life with him are both short-lived once he is killed.
The Actual Best. That’s it.
There’s plenty of greatness that I passed over, but this is enough for you to be able to jump into issue #55. This second half of the series will most likely feature Hazel as much more of a protagonist as she gets older. Seeing her get closer to her adult narrator’s voice will certainly be exciting and bittersweet.