Characters live and die in Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples world of "Saga," but unlike most other comics, I feel it (and believe it) and it's painfully permanent. This is just one of the reasons that "Saga" #11 is yet another brilliant issue in an incredible run of one of the best comics around.
In eleven short issues, Vaughan has created one of the most relatable and believable comics couples I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Alana and Marko are so real -- from their sexy scenes to their post sexy scene arguments, to their young love, to their less-young love -- that it's impossible not to root for them, to care for them, to become incredibly invested in everything about them and everything that surrounds them. This is character development at its best and it, above everything else, is the heart that makes the series beat. It's the first book I read every week it's published and the book I'm most anxious to read every month.
For her part, Staples just gets better with every issue, and yet I wouldn't have thought such a thing was possible after the skill on display in the debut issue. The emotional resonance she brings to these characters and the way she embraces and fleshes out Vaughan's delicious and disturbing world never fails to impress. A sex scene in Staples hands is both utterly graphic and the complete opposite. It feels incredibly real -- as though nobody pulls punches or is coy about what can and cannot be shown, and yet it's also not remotely drawn to titillate. It's a wonderful balance that not every artist can achieve. Staples can make readers hold their breath as they fear for Lying Cat -- a character that I love with a fierceness that stuns me. The character only says one word, and only a few times, yet I almost cried when her fate seemed uncertain last issue. I also nearly cheered aloud when it was resolved positively (and surprisingly) in this issue. It should also be said that Staples draws a damn adorable baby.
"Saga," eleven issues in, has simply not missed a beat. It continues to be a perfect blend of humor and drama that will make readers gasp alternatively in horror and hilarity at every turn. Vaughan and Staples are doing career-defining work and it's exciting to watch. This is the book to read. Period.