A person lounging on a throne like thing with a checkered floor beneath them, their face obscured by a polygonal mirror mask. The text reads "Issue 47"

Last Week’s Comics 10/4/2017

Saga # 47
(Image – Writer: Brian K. Vaughan, Artist: Fiona Staples)

My least favorite episodes of any long-running TV series are the flashback episodes. Even if I haven’t seen the episodes the show is flashing back to, I can’t help but feel like I’m being made to sit through filler.

Ianthe is this month’s cover girl and she also happens to be the former fiancee of one of The Will’s victims. She’s got our favorite freelancer tied up in her den and is using a magic VCR (that’s actually what Vaughan calls it) to review pivotal points in his life. She wants to find the people that mean the most to him in order to make him suffer like she did. And so, issue #47 is a flashback episode.

It focuses entirely on The Will, who has most definitely been missed. None of his flashback sequences are actually panels we’ve seen before, of course, which is another plus, and I’m always in the mood for backstory on the more mysterious characters. It also introduces a brand-new character, and she’s a scary yet delightful firecracker. More importantly, we get to see Lying Cat!

Staples’ artwork is particularly superb. She’s got a wonderfully expressive character in Ianthe. Her face is covered by a mask for the majority of the issue, but Staples really uses her body language to punctuate her witty quips and withering insults. Between her scenes and some action-heavy flashbacks featuring The Will and The Stalk in their salad days, the art leaves the reader breathless – always impressive when dealing with a static medium.

Finally, a huge atomic bomb of a secret gets spilled to a formidable antagonist, and it seems like it would be impossible not to have an earth-shattering effect on our core characters if it ever got out. This is Saga, though, and people have a tendency to die real quick around these parts. Real quick, like before-they-have-a-chance-to-even-open-their-mouth quick.

Even with all of these positives, I do feel the same impatience I have when watching those flashback clip episodes. Vaughn tries to counteract as cleverly as he can, but at one point Ianthe actually breaks panel continuity to say, “Boo! Fucking Filler!” That’s the rub: just because it’s not filler doesn’t mean you can get away with structuring the narrative just like filler TV episodes, and hanging a lampshade on it only makes it more noticeable.

Still, I’m glad to see the team making moves to bring The Will back back into the main storyline, even it’s not as elegantly as I would like. Next month promises the return of Ghüs and Prince Robot IV’s son, Squire, so of course I’m all in for issue #48. Note to BKV: I swear to god – if you touch a hair on Ghüs’s head there will be HELL to pay!

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