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Comics/Graphic Novels

A Love Letter to SAGA, Take 2

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Note: This letter contains spoilers for Saga through Volume 9.

Dear Saga,

It’s been a while. The first time I wrote to you was back in 2017. I was still newly in love, then. I’d only read through you once. I’d never met a comic like you. Volume after volume, you kept surprising me. And then your Volume 7 broke me open in ways that only the best storytelling can. So I wrote you a love letter. I wanted you to know how much you meant to me. I wanted to thank you for the innumerable ways you’d changed my reading life, and me.

Oh, Saga. That feels like so long ago now. If I had known what was coming, would I have written that letter? If I had known how utterly you were about to break my heart, would I have had the courage to keep reading you, page after glorious page? When your Volume 9 came out in the fall of 2018, I reread all of your previous installments in preparation for reading the new one. We’d known each other for a little while by then, and still, you surprised me. You were just as dizzying as I remembered, just as beautiful and horrifying, just as challenging, comforting, bizarre. Rereading you was even better than reading you for the first time.

And then you destroyed me, Saga. For a while, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to forgive you.

I suppose I might have seen it coming. You’ve never been easy. You’ve never been afraid to look into the abyss. I didn’t fall in love with you because you were a fun time. I fell in love with you because you refused to look away from death and despair, and yet you didn’t turn death and despair into entertainment. I fell in love with your truth-telling, your vulnerability, your willingness to look at the world — with all its endless disasters and injustices and horrors — and love it anyway. I fell in love with your big heart and your weird sense of humor and your fierce insistence that it’s worth fighting for the people and places that matter to us. I wasn’t expecting you to let me off the hook. I wasn’t expecting a fantasy.

But still. Volume 9. Those three deaths. One. Two. Three. One after the other. All in a row. No time to breathe in between. No time to grieve. All those flawed and messy characters. The years it took them to become each other’s family. Those few moments of ease they had together, something sparking inside me, a lightness, a kind of boundless joy, seeing that family on the page. And then the death. Death, and death, and death.

I’m glad you took a break after that, Saga. I needed some time to recover. Maybe you did, too. But it’s been three years, and I haven’t recovered. Have you? How do you recover from something like that? I don’t think we’re meant to. I don’t think we can. And that’s part of why I love you, Saga. Your world might have living spaceships and robots and ghosts, dozens of inhabited planets, and all kinds of ancient magic, but it’s not so different from my world, in the end. Both of our worlds are unbearable, at times. That’s not the kind of thing you get over. You learn to live with it. You mourn. You gather with your people. You tell stories. You help. You do what you can.

I haven’t recovered, Saga, but I have forgiven you. I’m not sure I was ever truly mad at you. I was mad at the world whose stories you tell with so much breathtaking rawness. I was mad at the corruption and evil and injustice that led to those deaths, all in a row, one, two, three. I wish you hadn’t done what you did. But it must have been even more devastating for you than it was for me. I’ve made my peace — not with the deaths, never with those cruel, heartbreaking, unbearable murders — but with the story. You did what you had to do. I cried for a lot. Forgive me, but I looked away from you for a while, a long time, while you were gone. And now you’re coming back.

I’m not exited about your return, Saga — excited is too flippant a word. But I am relieved. I’ve missed you. You’re coming back, and I want to you know that despite everything, we’re okay.

I’m going to reread you again, for the third time, even your Volume 9. I’m going to reread all of your pages, every one, the ones that made me laugh and the ones that gutted me. I’m going to keep reading you until the end, until you’re over, until you’ve said everything you came here to say. I’m going to keep reading because that’s part of being in love. Looking at the hard stuff and going forward anyway.

In my first letter to you, I wrote about how much you taught me about surprise. “You taught me never to close myself off to the possibility of wonder,” I wrote. Well, Saga, I’m not going to. You broke my heart, and I don’t trust you not to do it again. Wonder comes after heartbreak, too. So does joy. So, of course, does more heartbreak. But you’ve known all of that from the beginning, haven’t you? I don’t trust you with my heart, but you have it nonetheless. Surprise me.

Yours,
Laura