Eight Eyes on The Stalk
So it’s no surprise that a large majority of people hate spiders. Whether it be a pure poke-in-the-soul loathe, or a tickly shudder of disgust, it’s there. I know it’s not original at all, but I’m the first kind. Appreciate what they do for the ecosystem, but don’t want to ever see them crawling on my ceiling type of hate. However, there are exceptions. Like, attach the top half of a female human being without arms, give her some trashed-out version of Gwen Stacy hairdo, maybe make her a bad ass bounty hunter, add the fact that she’s strangely sexy. Yep, sounds great to me. We can all thank Fiona Staples for that. Also, her name starts with “The”, and everyone knows if your name starts with “The”, you’re some type of cool. This week’s woman (she’s certifiably female, the book says so!) is The Stalk.
The Stalk first appears in Saga #2, where she is seen tracking down the rebellious lovers Marco and Alana, which whom the entire story is centered around. Instantly we can tell that she is bad in that good, good way when she stabs Marco with her poisonous, barbed tongue. Yeah she’s got that going for her too. It would make sense for The Stalk to be in Saga, because without being totally biased, Saga is one of the best comics ever made. A lot of people will argue that it is the best comic ever created. I’m not going to go into a huge back story about it this week, because I feel that people have either read the series, or have heard so much about it that they probably get the gist of it. Poodles knows I’ve told everyone person who won’t pretend they have an imaginary engagement to be at, all about how awesome it is. Because it. Just. Is. Writing by the well-known Brian K. Vaughn and art by Fiona Staples is truly a one-of-a-kind pairing. Also this is probably one of the titles Image is most known for, and it’s a game changer in the industry. After being first published in March of 2012, it sold out its first printing in no time, and has since won several Eisner awards plus a Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story.
But Kittie, if everyone knows about or has read Saga, why write about The Stalk? I feel that she is a character that a lot of people either forget somehow, or just don’t really think about. Plus, with all the crazy space opera meets LSD type of stuff going on in the series, it can be easy to forget about how many layers to her character there really are … For one thing, she is extremely dedicated to her job. Her job is killing people a lot of the time, but hey, a career-oriented woman is a good thing. Also, she has a love affair going on with fellow bounty hunter, The Will.
The book never actually says that she loves him, but it alludes to that. I’m sure most readers were distracted by the, uh…love scene to actually focus on this under-the-radar nod to deeper feelings. In case you forgot or were too busy staring like I was, she says she wants to have babies with him in the midst of said arachnid-human love scene, which freaks him out. But really, what would those babies look like, anyway? Nevermind, Fiona Staples would find some way to make them amazing I’m sure. When The Will asks The Stalk if she’s serious, she takes on a brief joking nature, but in a more serious tone confesses that she would like to indeed have children one day. This gives way to the fact that she is not simply a sexy-weird killing machine, and has desires that hint at a much softer side. In so many books, the token “strong female character” is just that, and nothing more, because she has to be different from a stereotypical emotional female. That she can “fit in with the boys”, and The Stalk simply doesn’t. In fact, The Will is begrudgingly but insatiably in love with her, often falling victim to his feelings while The Stalk keeps her eight eyes on the job at hand.
In an earlier scene, The Will learns that she is on the same bounty hunter case as he, and immediately takes on a tone of defeat, because he feels that she is simply better at a job which is rough, bloody, and traditionally suited for men. At first, it seems like we’re going down that path, which for the record, isn’t a bad thing at all, it just isn’t anything new but it's a refreshing take on something we have seen again and again.
When Alana is left facing The Stalk alone, certain death at hand, she turns a ray gun on her newborn baby Hazel. When The Stalk questions Alana about killing her daughter, the new mother tells the bounty hunter that better death than to let Hazel end up with a creature like The Stalk. The Stalk is taken aback, clearly surprised at the notion of a mother killing her own daughter, which also shows a bit of her compassion early on, especially towards children.
To have characters that are so complex and a mix between Pokemon and a David Lynch film is one thing. To have them possess layers of emotion and depth along with their look is another. The Stalk is without a doubt a deeply underestimated character, and can hold attention in the palm of her hands, all eight of them.