Saga fans rejoice! The second hardback edition of Saga is finally here! The first volume came out all the way back in 2014 and contained issues 1 through to 19 and covers the first and second arcs of the story. It was controversial when it first came out because it depicted Alana (the female main character of Saga) breastfeeding her child Hazel on the front of it. The second volume is keeping with the tradition of having Hazel on the front but this time she is a toddler and happily picking her nose.
Saga is written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples and published by Image. It is a science fiction space opera about a husband and wife, Alana and Marko, who come from two different warring alien races, who flee their homes to run off and get married. They have a daughter together and name her Hazel. In the first hardback edition, it opens up with Hazel's birth and chronicles the first few years of her life.
Book two is just as handsome as book one. It is a large and gorgeous hardback book. It features fantastic full-page colour illustrations and has a special section at the back with extra drawings and pictures and information about all of the people who work hard to make Saga come to life. Book two contains issues 19 through to 36 and enters some exciting new story arcs.
The book begins with Alana and Marko living on a planet called Gardenia. Hazel is now a toddler and is uttering short simple phrases. Alana has gotten a job in an acting group called the Open Circuit playing a masked woman called Zipless in a soap opera. Marko spends his day doing housework and looking after Hazel as a stay-at-home dad.
Over time tension begins to build between Alana and Marko. Alana hates her job but feels pressured to stay in it because she is the only one working to support their family. Marko detests the long hours that she works and feels like she is shutting him out of her life.
Determined to try and give their daughter a happy childhood, Marko takes Hazel out to the park and meets a local woman called Ginny who runs a dance studio for children. He decides to enrol Hazel in the classes. This causes tension between him and Alana, who thinks it would be better if they kept a low profile on Gardenia since they are fugitives. Marko disagrees.
Miserable at work, Alana starts using a drug called Fadeaway after she learns that half of her colleagues are high on it. She quickly becomes addicted. When Marko finds out it leads to an argument between them that turns physical after he finds out that Alana has been getting high around Hazel at home. A tearful Alana banishes him from their house.
Marko goes to Ginny and almost kisses her but then changes his mind when he notices that Hazel forgot her favourite doll at her house. He takes the doll and decides to go back home. He arrives just in time to discover that Alana has sent their treehouse spaceship back into space. He is devastated.
In the short time the two of them were separated, Alana, Hazel and her grandmother, Klara, were confronted by a crazed Robot called Dengo who arrives seeking to kidnap Hazel. Dengo is a Robot from a poor village. His son died from a curable disease when he was four because his family were commoners who lacked medical insurance. Dengo blames the Robot royal family for the death.
Shortly before he arrives on Gardenia, he assassinates Prince Robot IV's wife Princess Robot and kidnaps their newborn son. He hopes to use Hazel as a political pawn. Alana launches the treehouse into space in an effort to get Dengo off the ship but her plan backfires. He takes them all hostage and forces them to go to a set of coordinates of his choice. Prince Robot IV turns up on Gardenia searching for his missing son. He teams up with Marko and the two leave on a mission to find Dengo and their families.
The next few issues deal with how Alana and Marko deal with their long separation. It takes a long time but eventually the two of them find each other again but lose Hazel and Klara in the process. In issue 31, there is a big time skip and we see Hazel as a four-year-old living in a detention centre on Landfall with her grandmother Klara.
Hazel forms a bond with her kindergarten teacher Colleen and decides to trust her with the truth about her parents and the knowledge that she is a hybrid between a Landfallian woman and a man from Wreath.
The explanation that she gives her parents of how her parents met and fell in love is wonderfully written and reads very much like how a four-year-old would speak to an adult:
"Well my Mummy is from this planet and my daddy is from the moon and he loved her so much that he put his penis inside her and then I got in my mom's tummy which made her happy except now she can't go in bounce houses because they make her go pee a little bit."
The second half of the book focuses on Alana and Marko rebuilding their marriage and working toward the goal of finding out where Hazel and Klara are being held and coming up with a plan to rescue them.
Saga is a fantastic comic book series that I highly recommend. It has been met with critical acclaim and been awarded several prestigious awards. It has frequently graced bestseller lists and has been praised for its artwork and positive portrayal of gender roles, sexuality, diversity, parenthood and marriage and its honest depiction of war.
Saga: Book Two will make a fantastic addition to any graphic novel collection.