When I initially picked up Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’s Saga series, I was unsure of what to expect; it had been variously described to me as surreal, dystopian, space opera, fantasy, science fiction, a war story, and a love story.
And there are so damn many wonderful, monstrous characters.
Lying Cat, though. Lying Cat might be my favorite. I want to be her friend, and I’m also terrified of her.
Lying Cat pals around with The Will, a bounty hunter. She’s a big, blue cat with the uncanny ability to know when anyone around her is lying…And she has no qualms about calling others’ bluffs. The story isn’t entirely clear about when and how Lying Cat ended up with The Will, but it’s pretty clear that she is not his pet.
She’s also not a normal cat. Not exactly, anyway. In some respects, Lying Cat acts as though she’s a normal cat. She cuddles on her own terms, cleans herself, and plays with her food. She’s bigger than normal, but we know that she’s also the runt of her litter…Which means, too, that there are more Lying Cats. And they must be large indeed, because Lying Cat is tall, and she is strong–often making quick work of a few enemies while The Will is otherwise occupied.
There are limits to Lying Cat’s abilities, though. While she is able to sense when someone is lying and will indicate that with either a growl or by saying “lying,” she doesn’t seem to be capable of speaking any other words. She also has to Play by the Rules, meaning that there are ethical boundaries and truths she must follow in addition to the spoken truths/lies she can detect. Her abilities also seem to be limited by the state of mind of the speaker–meaning that if the liar believes the lie, she cannot detect it.
And so we learn a lot from this monster. We learn a lot about Truth-with-a-capital-T and truths-with-lowercase-t’s. In one of the most poignant moments in the series, Lying Cat is curled up with Sophie, a 6 year old who The Will has saved from sexual slavery. Sophie contemplates her innocence, which she thinks is gone. But Lying Cat knows better:
Maybe Lying Cat is a monster. But monsters can be beautiful.