Our trip down memory lane continues on the planet Sextillion. Of the adult content provided thus far by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, Saga #4 pushes the envelope clear off the table. Prepare to be disturbed. (Spoilers ensue.)
After a crap-tastic day, The Will decides to take a load off at the galaxy's premier pleasure planet, Sextillion... on his client's dime, naturally. Sadly, the hostesses don't recognize Lying Cat's status as a guest. She's less than thrilled. (My words will never capture the look of pure disgust on Lying Cat's horny, c*ck-blocked face. Comedy gold.)
On Cleave, Marko lies under a blanket of medicinal snow, while Alana and Izabel (the spectral babysitter she picked up last ish) try to suss out what "bride" he was mumbling about in his delirium. Neither party is keen to pull punches. Alana's still grouchy with post-birth hormones, and Izabel is indeed "a dead teenager missing her vagina". Marko wakes up, out of mortal danger— but in deep trouble with the missus.
Back to Sextillion! [I'd love to share some of the more... exotic illustrations from this chapter, but decorum prevents me. Until I hear otherwise from higher-ups, these reviews will remain largely PG-13. Sorry. If you want to see the man in a dinosaur outfit sporting a strap-on (and who among us doesn't), you'll have to buy the comic.] The Will's not interested in the available prospects. A pimp with fish fins for ears arrives and invites him to "go a little deeper." Yikes.
Palette cleanser! (You're gonna need it.) Izabel looks after the baby while Alana and Marko get down to brass tacks: he was engaged to Gwendolyn. Technically still is. He explains that they legitimately grew apart as he lost interest in the war. He was planning to break things off on returning home, but then he got captured, met Alana as a POW, and the rest was history.
Tacky move #2? He married Alana with Gwen's family rings. Fiona Staples' work is consistently amazing, but there's a special place in my heart for her facial expressions. They're just incredible. Look at that contempt! Marvelous.
Turns out Marko has reasonable explanations for everything, so the family squabble is laid to rest.
Meanwhile, in the house of ill repute, The Will's been led to a private suite with... well. I could wrap this up in flowery prose, or I could call it what it is. It's f*cking awful, is what it is. Kudos to Vaughan and Staples for showing something horrendous exactly for what it is.
Meet Slave Girl. I do hope you recognize her hairdo, it's (intentionally) identical to Princess Leia's 'do when she was in the clutches of Jabba the Hutt.
The Will is speechless, for a moment. I was too, if I'm honest. And then, this hired killer, this ruthless mercenary, does something rather humane: he crushes the pimp's head to a pulp with his bare hands.
Hazel's narration rightly IDs The Will as a monster. "But," she adds, "some monsters are worse than others..." This is absolute truth.
Back on Cleave, Marko's changing Hazel's diaper, as Alana races up. Time to bolt. Trouble's comin'. There are perks to marrying a soldier: case in point, she recognizes the particular silence that accompanies a ship using a noise-canceling field. It's too late to run, and Marko's done with talking. "Talking almost got us all killed last time."
So, chapter four concludes with Marko breaking his vow and breaking out his ancestral magic sword. This will not be pretty... for their pursuers.
I have yet to find a single bloody thing to complain about, here. Even when the story touches on the unsavory, it does so with frankness. When The Will discovers a child slave, he's as disgusted as we are. War is not grand. It is not without trauma. And if you push a pacifist hard enough, he might just push back.
See you back here soon. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Casey Jones is a writer of comics and screenplays. You can learn more at www.caseyjonescaseyjones.com.