Hey! This review contains spoilers. For a spoiler-free take on Saga #60, skip to the verdict near the bottom of the page.
Four years ago this month, Saga broke for a hiatus, leaving readers with one of the more devastating emotional cliffhangers in recent monthly comics memory. Now, this week’s Saga #60 gives us the finale of the first arc back from that hiatus, and it is inextricably tied to that cliffhanger all those years ago in Saga #54. This entire first arc back has been very strong — especially the first two issues, where you could almost feel renewed energy from writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples — and this issue now brings us a very fitting endcap, albeit one that also leaves interesting questions to ponder during another gap (the next Saga collection is slated for October, with monthly issues resuming some time after that).
From the start of this arc, our main character Hazel — the young girl narrating our story from the future — hasn’t really addressed what happened when we last saw her, that being the loss of her father. Some time has passed, she’s grown, she’s developed a budding adolescent obsession with music. It’s all cute stuff, culled from a standard adolescence in some ways (yet happening with wild character designs in space), and it plays to Saga’s strength as one-part chronicler of domesticity and family. And while there have been hints of the tragedy Hazel suffered, she’s not entirely faced any of it head on in this story arc, at least not until Saga #60, anyway.
I’m about to get into spoiler territory here, but let me first say I thought this finale was excellent, emotional and steeped in all the things that have made me a long-time fan of this book. The real power of the issue, and in many ways the entire first arc, came with the ending of Saga #60. There is of course a calamity. While Hazel and her family were off at Space Chuck E. Cheese’s, someone burns down the treehouse rocket ship they have been travelling in since our story began. Losing the house breaks the repression Hazel has been doing with her grief over her father.
And Staples delivers gut punch after gut punch with panels showing us what’s happening in Haze’s mind, the memories she’s recalling of time spent with her dad in the treehouse, thereby paying off a slow-build many readers (myself included) maybe didn’t realize was happening throughout the background of this entire arc. It’s devestating in a different way than Saga #54 was. If Saga #54 hit you with tragedy, this issue hits you with the resultant trauma, a necessary and poignant choice.
That’s not all there is to this book, though. Another plot continues to move rapidly forward as well, that of the new special agent that is now in pursuit of the family. Saga works best when nefarious forces are actively catching up with our central characters, and this new fellow is one of the worst, a smooth operator who doesn’t flinch at threatening beloved supporting cast members like Ghüs, or at telling a mother her son is dead, as you can see in this post’s preview pages.
This will clearly be a building concern in the next arc, and I welcome that. I’m also curious to see what becomes of Bombazine, what’s going on with The Will, and, of course, how the family responds to the loss of both their home and transportation. I’m off now to look forward to how bad some (if not all) of those things will hurt.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
Will the landmark sixtieth issue of SAGA end with triumph or tragedy for Hazel and her family? This may be a “season finale” of SAGA, but the most emotional series in comics is only getting started!