Fiona Staples is an impeccable artist, but partway through this issue I found myself thinking, "Yeah...she's still doing it." Not that I was disappointed, just that by now she has set the standard of her work on Saga high enough that I've started to take it for granted. Which is my problem, not Staples'. And the flaming ghost gorilla really did it for me, so it's not like she can't impress or make an impact anymore, but I've grown comfortable enough with the characters and the settings of this series that I'm just used to seeing them look the way they do.
But then, kapow, I hit that two-page spread of the world hatching and my at-easeness imploded on itself. What a gorgeous goddamn moment. I didn't even notice that there was a dialogue balloon on one of the pages because I was so wrapped up in the planet-sized alien baby being birthed before my eyes. So applause for Staples for being able to shake me up and surprise me at exactly the right time with exactly the right image. I'll never again make the mistake of thinking I know what to expect from her.
Unfortunately, Brian K. Vaughan's script this issue is less compelling. I did quite like the opening scene, even though I'm not sure it was needed. The details of Marko and Alana's history are interesting enough, but I understand their love even without seeing their past. All the same, it was a touching conversation between them, and I am glad to have actually witnessed the moment they first decided to go for it, to risk everything for each other. After that, though, the script sort of lazily rolls along on the momentum of last issue. All of our heroes get back to their ship, their pursuers catch up to them, but nobody gets caught yet. The reasons for that were maybe not expected, but they weren't exactly unexpected either, and none of it felt all that exciting. It was more like...get on with it already.
The ending, which I won't entirely spoil but will say involves someone dying, was definitely a stunner. I'm actually still surprised at how hard it hit me. I was not anticipating another character death so quickly, and maybe least of all the character in question. And though I knew that this was a character I adored, I don't know if I expected to be so hurt by the loss. So far in Saga, death has been permanent, which I like in my fiction. But it puts me in the weird position now of hoping that one of my favorite characters will never be seen again. Rough stuff, handled deftly.
So Vaughan and Staples each blindsided me in the best way once this issue. And I like that, I want it more than anything from the books I read. If I can see everything coming, then what is the point, you know? Saga #10 didn't have the meatiest story, just a few inevitable beats in an extremely slow-moving tale. But it looked amazing and it threw a few impressive curveballs, so kudos for all of that.