There is no series more closely tied to the modern success and expansion of Image Comics than Saga. It was one of the key new series to launch in 2012 that helped the publisher more than double their market share and one of the few still being published from that period. The co-creation of writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples, Saga was originally pitched as an epic sci-fi romance, a combination of Star Wars and Romeo & Juliet. While it hasn’t had quite the cultural impact of either of those classic stories (yet), it has shown enormous crossover potential. Mainstream outlets have regularly covered the series and it is regularly featured in roundups of great comics for readers new to the medium.
All of that success makes the inevitable conclusion of the series a bit frightening, but we believe that time might be approaching. A number of signals, from recent events in the series itself to hints in the letters column, have indicated that Saga is closer to its conclusion than its beginning. We’ve assembled a collection of all the evidence and our best guess as to what the final issue of the series will be. While we wouldn’t mind being wrong and seeing Saga go on for much longer, there’s a strong case to be made that we already know when it will end.
SPOILER WARNING: Unless you are completely caught up on Saga, you do not want to read any further. Events from Saga #53 are discussed (and shown) in the slides ahead. If you have not caught up with the series and do not want to have major twists revealed, then please catch up before reading any further.
At the end of the letters column in Saga #53, Vaughan teased something significant about the series, writing: “back here in the pages of To Be Continued, a very important announcement about the future.” While this is by no means a surefire indicator that Saga is drawing to a close, it’s one of the most likely meanings. Saga has been an incredibly reliable series from its start with six issues being published on a monthly basis followed by a two- to three-month hiatus. The series has run like clockwork, even with Staples launching the new Archie series causing no issues. So the idea that there would be an “important announcement” is enough to believe that something big must be happening.
The opening of the most recent To Be Continued also provided some hints that Saga would be ending. Vaughan discussed his recent thoughts on death (but not his own) and the practice of Swedish Death Cleansing. This process was something he was actively performing by clearing away years of fan mail from Saga. The combination of shredding so many letters and contemplating endings certainly reads like serious foreshadowing for the ending of the series itself.
This is the main reason we put in a spoiler warning. The death of Prince Robot IV at the end of Saga #53 was the biggest shock in the series to date. There are no bigger characters in the story than the central trio of Hazel, Alana, and Marko, and perhaps The Will. Losing Prince Robot IV after so much change reveals a movement towards wrapping things up and providing endings for characters who have already come so far.
The Will’s brutal execution of Prince Robot IV, a friend to Hazel’s family and the father of her “brother” also begins to make sense of early foreshadowing in the series. In the very first arc, Hazel referred to The Will as “a f***ing monster,” and the reason why is now apparent. Much of that first arc was alluding to events and changes that felt very distant and many of them have started to arrive. Saga is starting to come full circle, indicating that the beginning will finally be meeting the end.
The complete circle of Saga is all about Hazel growing from a child to adulthood. She spent much of the first few arcs as an infant and has just now emerged into adolescence. If Saga is the story about her reaching adulthood safely, then there are only so many more years of story left. Hazel still hasn’t reached the ending of her journey, but if the current arc is bringing her “middle school years” to a close, that places the series in a position to start wrapping up very soon.
When Vaughan began the series, he promised readers that Saga would run longer than his two most popular creator-owned series to date: Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina. Saga has already surpassed Ex Machina and is very close to passing the 60 issue benchmark of Y: The Last Man. If this promise holds true, there will be at least a couple of six-issue arcs left, but after that it could end at any time.
The publication schedule of Saga also provides some ideas on predicting when it will end. Every six-issue arc of the story is collected in a paperback, and then every 18 issues are collected in an oversized hardcover. Saga #54 will complete the third hardcover in the series so far. If Vaughan and Staples want to create a neat collection of volumes, that would hint there are still 18 issues left to go. Based on all of the indications so far, that would mean the series will end with Saga #72.
All of those reasons build up to our final guess, and a well educated guess at that. The big announcement coming out in the final pages of Saga #54 is that the series will be drawing to a close. The current story arc marks the end of the third hardcover and there will only be one more left to go before the series is complete. That means there will only be three collections, 18 issues, and about 24 months of the series before its final panel (one Vaughan said he had in mind at the very start) arrives. While that revelation is bound to be bittersweet, it’s also a reminder that comics fans should be grateful to have had Saga for so long. It has been an incredibly special series in the lives of many readers and we expect these (speculative) final 18 issues to be every bit as good as those that preceded them.