Throughout its nine-issue run, Saga has been rich with original characters who grab the eye and, occasionally, the heart. Who can forget The Stalk, the half woman-half insect given to salty, amusing dialogue? Or Prince Robot IV, a monarch with an analog television for a head?
And now we have the stunning mystery woman whose name fugitive newlywed Marko uttered while he hovered near death in issue #3, prompting his wife, Alana, to ask: “Who the fuck is Gwendolyn?”
We’re just beginning to find out. But when Gwendolyn finally made her entrance on the last page of issue #8, a lovely vision with her dark brown skin, regal afro and horns, I was smitten. Given the exceptional nature of this series and her emerging role in it, I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a character since Saga writer Brian K. Vaughan introduced Agent 355 in Y: The Last Man. It’s that serious.
A little background: Saga’s forbidden lovers, Alana and Marko, have managed to avoid the assassins hired by the authorities on Marko’s home moon. The clients are pissed, and Gwendolyn has been assigned to make sure the job gets done. Oh, she’s also Marko’s ex-fiancee.
Issue #9 is all about the interaction between her and enigmatic mercenary The Will, and neither is impressed by the other at first. Gwendolyn denies his accusation that she’s a jilted lover who wants revenge, and his claim that he needs more money to find the wanted couple prompts her to laugh in his face. The bullshit-detecting feline who accompanies The Will busts them both with a single word: “Lying.”
Gwendolyn quickly proves that she’s no mere “scrawny civil servant” but a brilliant negotiator who assists The Will in his quest to rescue a young slave so that he can get on with finding Alana and Marko. Maybe it’s a stretch to draw comparisons between Saga and the also utterly awesome TV thriller Scandal, but there are shades of Olivia Pope as Gwendolyn coolly threatens the slave girl’s keepers with a media nightmare if they refused to cooperate. Olivia also favors white clothing, but I digress.
No matter how she looked, Gwendolyn’s presence would be interesting simply because of her surprising role in this story. But I’m especially stoked to see another woman of color playing a significant part in such a great book. Vaughan and Staples could have gone in any number of directions with Gwendolyn, but they’ve shown yet again that “organic” diversity doesn’t require an act of Congress, excessive hand-wringing and an abacus. And speaking of Ms. Staples, her gorgeous take on this character has a lot to do with my love-at-first-sight experience. Those eyes!
For the record, I would read the hell out of a comic headlined by The Will and Gwendolyn.