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SAGA Chapter 61
Image: Image Comics

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Saga #61: Memories, Grief, and the Space In-between

Saga returns, after yet another painful hiatus, with a chapter that immediately reminds how far we have come and how far we still have ahead in this epic.

Chapter 60 closed with a devastating reveal that the sentient tree ship, our heroes’ home throughout the series, has been burnt to the ground. The last of its kind. It illustrates another stage of life in Hazel’s journey that many of us experience; that first loss of our childhood home and the emotion and memories we inevitably attach to it. At that moment, Hazel had to confront her grief over her father as the memories of their time together in that home flashed before her eyes.

“He isn’t in there, baby. He’s gone.”

Chapter 61 hints that Hazel will be confronting her grief much more in the coming chapters. The burning of their home marks a new era. Life ebbs and flows and never quite goes how one plans. As Izabel once said: “Dude, you don’t steer a rocket ship. You ride it.”

The Chapter begins with a flashback to Marko and Gwendolyn’s youth and the ill-fated proposal we have heard about since Chapter 4. Heartbreakingly, Marko looks bright-eyed and innocent here as he proposes to his young love. Gwen, unsurprisingly, is not the warmest to this, bothered by his lack of ring.

The early whispers of Marko’s pacifism are apparent here in a young man that fears his duty will turn to bloodlust. His tragic hamartia would one day end his life.

The flashback quickly reveals itself to be a nightmare had by Gwen as Marko’s skull and impaled body call out her insecurities.

SAGA Chapter 61 review
image: Image Comics

Sophie makes her first appearance in a while. Watching Sophie grow always seems to remind me of the ticking time until her and Hazel’s inevitable confrontation. Gwen, always a master of deflection, turns Sophie’s attention from sharing a bed with The Will to her plan to have the entirety of the Robot Kingdom on Wreath’s side. Lying Cat’s inclusion in the scene tells us that at no point was Gwendolyn lying. That her plan is no boast and that she truly believes “Loyalty is a fucking fairy tale.”

Is this a deep scar that Marko added salt to, or was he part of its origin?

SAGA Chapter 61 review
image: Image Comics

Six months have passed since the gang has become homeless. Sophie and Squire seem to spend their day panhandling while waiting for Alana to return from work. Despite living as fugitives, homelessness has imbued them with a sense of invisibility. Hazel has her wings on full display and even when Squire is noted for his regal features by a Marquess of his Kingdom, the man seemingly thinks nothing further of it.

Alana is working in “order fulfillment” at some warehouse, yet again sporting a new look. Her hairstyles always were the harbinger of a new stage of her life. Many of us have memories of our mothers working some menial job, perhaps as a second job, during a certain rough patch, or even all through our informative years. It’s something we can’t truly appreciate until we look back as an adult ourselves and see the sacrifices.

As Alana and Hazel discuss dinner plans heading home, Squire lingers back and showcases his first instance of his species’ ability to turn their hand into a weapon. This evokes not only an image of pubescence but a potential for teenage rebellion. Squire was clearly influenced by the appearance of the Marquess, waving his cannon at him as the soldiers called him back to the fight. Will he run off to join the forces? To be with his kind, recently rejected by Hazel and can send money home to his family. Or will he use it to hold up a store and give them a chance to get off this planet? Both essentially clichés of youth, economic struggle, and the parent whose heart it breaks. Squire’s muteness leaves us unaware of his feelings growing up adopted, left to panhandle, and like Hazel, dealing with the loss of a father. What will Squire think of Petrichor’s plan? It’s unclear what is in the static, but an image is coming to life on that screen.

Elsewhere, The Will’s old agent has his retirement and vacation interrupted. Petrichor returns, hellbent on avenging Prince Robot IV. It’s a reoccurring theme in Saga that our past always comes back around…

“Conflict always has consequences. Always.” – Marko

It is unclear how Petrichor knows The Will was responsible. Agent Gale is currently hunting her and if he was to find her, the reveal of her crusade could be used as proof against Gwen’s plan. If Petrichor succeeds in finding The Will, this could also derail Gwen’s plan. Either way, Petrichor will play a big role in this coming arc.

SAGA Chapter 61 review
image: Image Comics

As the chapter begins with memories of Marko, it ends with them too. Alana, Hazel, and Squire enter a shop called “Pawnshop, Potions & Microwave Repair”. The owner is Miss Vitch, someone Alana seems to have built a rapport with and trades goods with. The clincher comes when she learns Alana’s ring, which she has been eyeing, is in fact a wedding band.

“Girlfriend, I have the still-beating heart of a baby dragon in my freezer. What I’m saying is we live in a universe of fuckin’ magic. And yeah, the ingredients are expensive, but get me the right ones…”

SAGA Chapter 61 review
image: Image Comics

Hazel overhearing this is key. This is a hope that should not be fallen for, but a child in grief will cling to this.

Marko is not coming back.

Saga deals in magic but it doesn’t deal in “magic”. For a tale where anything seems possible, Saga ultimately never lets its real-life experience off the hook. We are born, we age, people come and go, some break our hearts, others drift away, and sometimes they die. Never to return. Whatever this thread is, it will not have a bow on it.

It could be a con by Miss Vitch or a wild goose chase. What is more likely, is that whatever Miss Vitch means by bringing him back is not what we think. It seems to promise an errand that will only end in the painful lesson that we can never have our past back again. A lesson that can only be made manifest in the world of Saga.

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