Title: Saga, Volume 3
Series Title: Saga
Authors: Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
Date Added: May 29, 2017
Date Started: June 1, 2017
Date Finished: June 5, 2017
Reading Duration: 4 days
Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Space Opera
From the Hugo Award-winning duo of Brian K. Vaughan (The Private Eye, Y: The Last Man) and Fiona Staples (North 40, Red Sonja), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the universe. Searching for their literary hero, new parents Marko and Alana travel to a cosmic lighthouse on the planet Quietus, while the couple’s multiple pursuers finally close in on their targets.
I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to continue to review this series, since each volume is not standalone, but rather fits into an overarching (dare I say it? I’m gonna say it…) saga (ahhhhh), and for a brief moment, I considering not reviewing each one, instead waiting until I finished the 7th, but then I recalled that even that wouldn’t be the end of the story since Volume 8 is coming out in January and concluded that I’ll continue these individual reviews and try to keep them as spoiler free as possible for the prior books.
In their persistent state of fleeing, Alana and Marko, with baby Hazel and her ghostly babysitter Isabelle in tow, visit Quietus, the home of D. Oswald Heist, the author of A Night Time Smoke, the book Alana became obsessed with when she was a Private First Class, and it literally not only changed her and Marko’s entire life, but is the catalyst for the whole story.
Where so many other people consider it “trash” or ” a piece of shit,” Alana saw a higher meaning, and it shaped her entire future. But for this book, she wouldn’t have helped Marko escape. But for this book, they wouldn’t have fallen in love. But for this book, they never would have had Hazel whose destiny remains unknown, but the thread of her being wouldn’t even exist if Heist hadn’t written what some consider a treatise on pacifism and others insist is pure drivel.
The irony is Alana herself doesn’t believe in the peace paradigm, but Marko (whom she introduced to the word and world of Heist…literally) does, and he attempts to live it out to no avail, because violence is sometimes necessary if you want to protect the ones you love. His ultimate refusal to commit such, when he breaks his family’s ancestral sword, literally summons the parents who gave him said sword. “Violence is never the answer” is the rallying crying of those who have never witnessed their loved ones or homeland threatened or destroyed. Violence should never be the question, because when it is, only one answer can suffice.
The idea of story as catalyst for story is a paradigm seen in quite a few other places. Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars is catapulted toward the Netherlands with her true love Augustus in tow due to the unfinished (fictional) novel An Imperial Affliction. Though their reasons are different, like Alana she seeks out the author of the story her life either is or becomes modeled after.
Though there are many catalysts for the next example (and one main one that I’ll cover when I review it), Final Fantasy VII has Genesis’s obsession with the play Loveless to show for it. While one could argue he was retconned into the narrative after it was already set in VII (and one could also argue that I’m looking at this either too simply, too deeply, or that I’m looking at it wrong, which is a fair judgment to make as I haven’t finished Crisis Core and I might be missing some integral part), his modus operandi was that play. It guided his actions within the corrupting influence of mutating cells and fueled his torment of Sephiroth when the general discovered the (half) truth about himself, which is the driving force for many of FFVII’s surface events.
Then we have Family Guy and American Dad!, which play it for laughs in the episodes “Chris Cross” and “My Morning Straitjacket” respectively. The former (in the B plot at least) concerns Brian and Stewie taking a trip to Canada in order to discover the meaning of Anne Murray’s “Snowbird” from the songstress herself, and the latter has Stan becoming obsessed with the band My Morning Jacket and seeking out the lead singer, because he believes Jim is singing for him alone. Oddly enough the two comedic ones are based on real creators, while the more serious stories use fictional narratives as their driving force, and many of these examples prove there are times when it’s better just to let the author “die.”
This even bleeds into real life (sometimes literally and tragically). John Hinckley, Jr. became obsessed with the movie Taxi Driver, whose protagonist Travis Bickle (played by Robert De Niro) was partly based on the diaries of Arthur Bremer, the man who tried to assassinate George Wallace, so it’s a bit of a meta catalyst. Taxi Driver wouldn’t have been made (at least not in the way it was) without Arthur Bremer, and Hinckley wouldn’t have tried to assassinate Reagan in order to impress Jodie Foster without the movie.
My own raison d’être is Final Fantasy VII itself, so there’s another potential meta catalyst especially when one considers my original writing is inspired by it as well. Stories are powerful motivators, breathing life into actors both fictional and real, because if you removed them from their respective equations, the narrative changes or doesn’t exist at all.
Even though obviously the entirety of Saga is based on Heist’s novel, this volume really drives that home on Quietus, which lives up to its name (for a time), and as for the author’s moniker itself, it explains Alana and Marko’s entire and unwarranted fugitive existence. The whole series has these little gems hidden in it for those of us willing to look.
If you give me more examples of stories whose catalyst is another story (either fictional or real), I’ll love you for it forever. Also, if you know the “official” name for such a concept, I’ll love you even more.