Weekend Shorts: Saga and Hawkeye

Saga, Vol. 4, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Saga, Vol. 4This comic, guys. It’s sooooo good. If you’re not reading it, you’re missing out. In this volume, it seems we’ve skipped a bit forward in time — Hazel is a toddler, ex-slave Sophie is a hipster tween, and Prince Robot’s baby is born in a graphic and very human way on the very first page. Good morning! We get to see our favorite fugitive family having a bit of downtime on a planet called Gardenia, where Marko plays stay-at-home dad while Alana plays a… um… I don’t even know. While Alana makes money acting on a very telenovela-ish broadcast thing while wearing awkwardly sexy outfits. As you do? Anyway, this leads to some marital tensions that almost turn really really terrible, but instead only turn pretty darn terrible at the end.

Meanwhile, there is a single commoner staging an uprising on the Robot Kingdom, stealing a royal baby and running off to Gardenia for broadcasting purposes; Prince Robot coming out of his stupor to hunt down his kidnapped baby; Gwendolyn, Sophie, and Lying Cat on a heist; and a brief but delightful cameo from my favorite tabloid reporter couple. Such excitement!

Hawkeye, Vol. 2: “Little Hits”, by Matt Fraction and David Aja
Hawkeye, Vol. 2Hey, remember when I read the last volume and I was totally baffled the entire time? Yeah, that doesn’t change. I was prepared this time, but this is definitely still a thinky book (which is probably why they’re ending it soon) that requires a lot of concentration.

The first issue (#7) is pretty straightforward — Hawkeye (Clint) helps one of his tenants/neighbors take care of his dad out in Far Rockaway during the storm of the century while Hawkeye (Kate) goes to an expectedly disastrous engagement party in Atlantic City during same said storm. But then things go back to confusing normal in the second issue (#6, just for funsies), in which we see six days in the life of Hawkeye, shuffled up and requiring the use of clocks to help you figure out the timeline. Oh, good. The next issue (#8, and back to a normal order) details how gingers are terrible for Clint’s well-being, from Clint’s point of view, and the one after that details how gingers are terrible for Clint’s well-being from the points of view of the dangerous women in his life. Then there’s a Kate issue introducing a bad guy who is also apparently a clown, and then to cap it off there is the absolute best issue ever, starring Pizza Dog!

Like, no, seriously, this thing is amazing. Pizza Dog is the dog Hawkeye rescued from some bad guys, and this whole issue is from his point of view, so there’s not much dialogue except for what the dog presumably understands. Mostly it’s just page after page of Pizza Dog wandering around, recognizing people by how they smell and noting what things are related to them, and then also stumbling upon a murder scene, flirting with a neighbor dog, attacking bad guys, escaping bad guys, and leaving one Hawkeye to adventure with another. This is probably my second-favorite single issue after the choose-your-own adventure in The Unwritten. I am intrigued to see what Fraction and Aja can do to top this.

Weekend Shorts: Grace’s Guide and Saga

Grace’s Guide, by Grace Helbig
Grace's GuideA little while back I read My Drunk Kitchen, by internet-famous Hannah Hart. This book is by the probably equally internet-famous Grace Helbig, whom I saw once on an episode of TableTop and so am not quite as familiar with. But Helbig’s book is in the same “millennial’s guide to life” vein as Hart’s, and that’s apparently a thing I’m into these days. I even ended up liking Grace’s Guide a bit more, largely because it’s not tied to a cookbook conceit but also because it offers some legitimately useful advice. She starts with a list of “Fifty Adult Survival Tips” which include things like “wear socks if your shoes require socks” and “you probably don’t want that tattoo” and “don’t hold a grudge”. Helbig then offers advice in the form of life stories about college, work, dating, cooking (real food), and generally surviving the transition from kid to grown-up. Mostly the book served to reinforce my personal beliefs, but it also reminded me of things I should probably be doing. Maybe I’ll be a better person someday!

Saga, Vol. 2, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Saga, Vol. 2It’s been just a little while since I read the first volume of this series, relative to how long it’s taken me to catch up on other comics, but I was still a little worried going in that I would be totally lost. Luckily, it’s not that complex a story so far. In this second volume, we meet Marko’s parents, find out how he landed Alana (well, really the other way around), and learn a bit more about this whole Wreath vs. Landfall ages-long war and how completely awful it is. We spend a brief time with The Will as he and some woman (spoilers: Marko’s vengeful ex!) pull some awesome badassery to rescue a girl out of slavery. Look, dude, stop doing things that make me want to root for you!

Saga, Vol. 3, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Saga, Vol. 3Things pick up the pace even more in this volume, in which we meet some tabloid reporters who are out to do a story on the still-just-a-rumor Wreath and Landfall couple with a baby. More people hunting our friends down? Sure, why not? Meanwhile, a dead person comes back to life (-ish) and starts causing problems for The Will, Marko and Alana hunt down the hack author that brought them together, and things start going very wrong for pretty much everyone. There’s some more backstory and world-building as well, and it’s just an all-around great time. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the next volume!

Saga, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan

Saga, Vol. 1Even though I seem to be incapable of catching up with all of the single issue comics I’ve been buying over the last year, I got it into my head that I should and could totally start another series, for free from the library! Of course, see the first part of that sentence, so this particular book spent many months being renewed to the limit and checked in and back out until I finally decided that if I wasn’t going to read it now, it was never going to happen.

Part of my severe procrastination in reading this volume is that I really didn’t want to not like it. I had seen and heard this series talked about all over my favorite media, and everyone has pretty much agreed that it’s quite good. But on the other hand, it’s by Brian K. Vaughan, who wrote the Y: The Last Man series that I loved until I didn’t, and also the few panels that I had seen of the comic looked, well, a little too weird for me.

But, seriously, everyone was talking about it, and I am not one to get left out if I can help it, so now I can also say that I have read it. And that it’s quite good. I hope it stays that way!

First things first, yes, it’s super weird. The protagonists are a dude with horns and a chick with wings, and the antagonists include a robot prince with a monitor for a head and a chick with no arms but lots and lots of legs. We meet the robot prince mid-coitus, and later another antagonist goes to what is apparently a sex planet and we get many helpful illustrations of what goes on there.

But the story itself (so far) is pretty normal. Our protagonists are from two sides of a long war, and at the beginning of the book we are treated to the birth of their be-horned and be-winged daughter. No side of the war (and there are apparently many sides) is okay with this union, and so many people are sent out to kill our heroes, although at least some of the hunters are told not to kill the kid. So that’s interesting.

Also interesting is that the series is called Saga, and at certain points characters mention that the parents are ruining the “Narrative”, so I am intrigued to see what comes of that. And I am, as I was with Y: The Last Man, totally rooting for our protagonists and even a little bit for some of the antagonists, so it will be fun to see what horrors await them (I have been promised horrors!). Perhaps I’ll even find out in a timely fashion this time? A girl can dream…

Recommendation: For fans of Vaughan and strange worlds in general, and those with strong stomachs for sex and violence.

Rating: 9/10