[Comic Publication Date: 1/29/14]

"No story's worth dying for."
“No story’s worth dying for.”

It feels like far too long since there’s been an issue of Saga but when a series leaves on such a somber note as the last issue did, any amount of wait between issues is too long. Thankfully, Saga #18 is here to lift our collective spirits and while some characters will not live to embark on the next adventure, the issue generally finds a satisfying resolution to its current despondency. Considering the cavalcade of emotionally draining moments Brian K. Vaughan has delivered over the last few months—with the near-death of both The Will and Lying Cat—Saga #18 is a welcome beacon of optimism and hope. It’s a bittersweet conclusion, however, with the series taking its regular hiatus until May, but with the number of new inclusions to the cast of characters that Vaughan has made in just these last six issues alone, Saga is poised to come back even better than ever.

It’s a testament to how deeply written Saga’s characters are that in this, the eighteenth issue of the series, there are still discoveries to be made about characters that have been around since the series began. You might think that all that is to be known about Lying Cat rests within her name, but there’s a reveal near the start of this issue that informs on the past of even the animal companion of a bounty hunter. Vaughan enriches Saga #18 with these little morsels of information, the most interesting of which involves learning the real name of The Will and his relationship to a recently introduced fellow bounty hunter named The Brand. This issue almost feels like a departure for The Will—and Prince Robot IV for that matter, who is definitely not himself anymore—but with the investment Vaughan has put into these characters and their pasts, I can’t imagine the further adventures of Alana, Marko, and now-toddler Hazel (!) will be completely devoid of these personalities.

A benefit to the frequent Saga hiatuses, as outlined in the letters column in the back of this issue, is that there’s never a change in artist. That Fiona Staples can remain on this book throughout each issue is a blessing and without her, Saga would most certainly be missing one of its important contributors. In Saga #18, Staples works mostly with emotion, drawing a tense encounter between Marko, Alana, and Marko’s jilted ex-lover, Gwendolyn. Even without Vaughan’s words, Staples’ emotive faces would tell the entire love story here, of Marko and Alana being truly meant for one another and Gwendolyn still heartbroken but desperate enough to confront her ex because of her love for someone else. There’s no new creatures or strange planets Staples has to draw here, just the classic characters. Oftentimes that’s all I want out of Saga, especially when the characters are realized as well as they are each and every month.

Saga #18 should come as no surprise as a must-buy, but only if you’ve been reading the series up until this point. If for some reason the constant love for Saga around the comic community has finally sunk in, wait until the third trade is released this March then pick up this series starting in May.

GNN Comics Grade: NEAR MINT (8.5/10)

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