Saga is always an emotional trip, where even the highs are touched by a rather unsettling nervous feeling. And really, only after reading the gut punch that was Volume 7, would anyone read #8 and think, “Oh, that one was actually pretty uplifting!”
Volume 7 takes place on a comet that is caught in the middle of the war between Wreath and Landfall. Hazel’s collected family have settled there for some months, finding it to be a surprisingly hospitable place in the midst of the violence. They’ve comfortably befriended the locals (who are, in the classic tradition of Saga, adorable animals that immediately break your heart with their cuteness and make you understandably concerned for their deeply imperiled well-being,) and despite a handful of episodes that force Marko and Alana to re-consider their own positions on violence and defense, they’ve found value in remaining there for a short stay. It’s a meditation on the meaning of a home when assurances of safety and stability don’t exist, and I’ll let you just guess how well it all ends.
Volume 8, then, picks up with the core group landing on a backwater planet looking for help they can’t get anywhere else, and that’s about as specific as I feel that I can be without spoiling Vol 7 at the least. Suffice it to mean that once again Marko, Alana, Hazel & Co are on the move and inevitably run up against constant reminders that their family is considered by many to be an abomination. Their survival in the face of that hate is both figurative and literal; they must maintain their strength and renew their convictions from their own love of each other because they’re surely not getting support for it elsewhere. And while they’re keeping themselves mentally fortified against violence, they must protect each other physically as well. Overall, Volume 8 has the family in a less precarious position than many volumes, but even here, they share an experience that will have lasting emotional repercussions on their reflections of their family.
I probably made all of this sound like an emotional chore, and despite it being pretty heavy at times, it’s still an absolute pleasure to read, between the art, the interspersed humor that makes me bark out loud with surprise, and, yes, the way that even the most heart-rending bits make you feel so deeply that the emotional vulnerability stays with you long after.