Saga Vol 11 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples

collecting issues 61-66 of the long-running comic book series.

It has been a long ass time since I read the first Saga collection, and I have apparently not read anything else of it since, despite quite liking the first book. So when I saw that Volume 11 was nominated for the Hugos, I was super excited to dive in, despite having only the faintest remembrance of what had transpired in Volume 1. That vague memory proved to be only marginally helpful, as I spent most of this volume hanging on for dear life as I tried to figure out who everyone was, why they were where they were and what might have happened in the nine books that I hadn’t read. I definitely would not recommend jumping into this volume if you haven’t read any of the prior books, and think this would likely work best for those who’ve actually read all of the others. Some volumes in long-running series are terrific jumping-on points for new readers: this, alas, is not one of them.

I was actually a little surprised that no introductory material was included with this for the Hugo packet, but I get it. It’s a lot of stuff, and not all authors/publishers are as generous with their backlist as, say, Seanan McGuire or Kieron Gillen. But there is decidedly no “previously on” material here either, which makes me believe that the intent with this series overall is for readers to start at the beginning before getting here. I actually found that reading the back blurb helped me get a better idea of what I’d just read — I don’t usually read back matter on books I’m about to review because I have very little time for that nowadays — as it was super helpful in situating the characters in time and circumstance.

Okay, now that I’ve nattered on enough about the handicap I had in properly reviewing this book, let’s talk about the book itself. Fiona Staples’ art continues to be bold and weird and excellent, as she illustrates this space opera of found families and, at least in this installment, the perils of vengeance. The only reason I had trouble identifying some of the characters is because it’s been literal years since I’ve seen them, and some of them have definitely grown up! Once I figured out who was who tho, there was absolutely no confusion.

This story arc itself revolves around the two young girls I remember from the first book, the once-rescued Sophie and the once-infant Hazel, whose tales are told in parallel. They’re in wildly different circumstances, but each must deal with the adults in their lives making tough choices. Sophie herself is more of a bystander as Petrichor comes back into her life, whereas Hazel goes off in pursuit of a path to bring her father back to her. The coda revolves around Gale being an ahole as usual.

It’s all excellent stuff, as one expects from this crew, but I have to admit that not having read the last nine books put me at a serious disadvantage for feeling the impact of this story. This is, ofc, a me problem, not a them problem. But because this book isn’t a complete story, and because I haven’t any real way before voting of obtaining those nine books to properly evaluate the tale so far, I’m going to have to rate it as lower than the also excellent but entirely standalone Bea Wolf on my Hugo 2024 ballot.

Saga Vol 11 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples was published November 29 2023 by Image Comics and is available from all good booksellers, including

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