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The return of Brian K. Vaughan is nothing short of brilliant.,
This review is from: Saga, Vol. 1 (Paperback)
For many years, Brian K. Vaughan has been dazzling us and making our heads spin with his wordsmithing and storytelling on some of the greatest comics of the last decade or so. Books like Y: THE LAST MAN, EX MACHINA and his initial run on RUNAWAYS are the stuff that comic book readers' dreams are made of. Alas, since the devastating finale of EX MACHINA, he took some well-deserved time off, but when he announced a new creator-owned series for Image Comics that was apparently going to be "STAR WARS meets ROMEO AND JULIET meets GAME OF THRONES", people's heads started to explode with anticipation. But would it live up to the inevitable hype surrounding a work by Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples?
Short answer: Abso-freakin'-loutely.
SAGA is the type of space opera that only someone like Vaughan could do, and do with enough smarts, fun, emotion, action and surprises to keep the audience wrapped around his finger. It's the story of Marko and Alana, a pair of star-cross'd lovers from different sides of warring planets. Alana is from the planet Landfall, a place of great technological advancement, and their planet is in constant conflict with the magic-wielders of that planet's moon Wreath, where Marko hails from. Marko was captured after a battle with Landfall where he threw down his arms because he is a self-proclaimed conscientious objector, and he was imprisoned, where Alana, who was also somewhat disgraced in her military service, is his prison guard. Fast-forward several months, and Alana is giving birth to their child, Hazel, the actual narrator of the series. The very beginning of the series is dedicated to her actually giving birth, and it's hilarious and beautiful and suspenseful since they are being pursued from both sides of this galaxy-wide conflict. In the midst of their pursuit, where they are in search of a legendary (and perhaps fictional) Rocketship Forest so that they might get off the planet with their new baby, we are introduced to all sorts of new, strange, frightening and wonderfully rich characters. We meet Prince Robot IV, a humanoid being with what appears to be an old-fashioned TV set for a head, who is the one primarily tasked with the elimination of Marko and Alana. We also meet two of the bounty hunters that have are in a bidding war to get the fugitives, The Will and The Stalk. The Stalk is a somewhat frightening-looking spider-like alien who carries weapons in all of her additional appendages, and The Will is humanoid, but has with him what might be one of my favorite characters EVER and that is the character of Lying Cat, who is a talking cat that can tell when someone is lying. Also characters in their own right are a legendary group of terrifying killers called The Horrors, which, like all characters in this book aren't quite what they seem.
Alana is much more prone to using violent means to protect her husband and new baby, but Marko is hesitant, despite that he carries a sword chained inside its sheath that he has vowed never to unsheath. Prince Robot IV is less than pleased with the notion of having to track this fugitive couple down, feeling that it is beneath his aristocratic sensibilities. The Stalk and The Will obviously have a romantic/sexual past but both of them are fearsome, amoral killers, or as one might think, until The Will goes to the pleasure planet of Sextillion and his unethical code is put to the test.
Vaughan's writing is as strong and natural as it's ever been, and he uses a great deal of English-Speaking slang, because... why not? Whatever language these different races might be speaking to each other is still going to be translated to our language, and Vaughan, if nothing else, is masterful at the art of language. Each issue moves along at an incredibly even pace, allowing for moments of great suspense and violence, but also allowing for great humor, character beats and texture to the worlds around them. If there is a science fiction-fantasy comic out there that is so adept at creating its own universe, I have yet to read it.
Fiona Staples' art is an excellent balance of extreme detail to abstract lines and shading. It is exactly the feel that the book demands, and once again, Vaughan has found the perfect person to illustrate his work. Her amazeballs work is absolutely suited to this book and is absolutely one of those artists that demands following in this and other titles.
The thing that this book may bring up for some people is an age-old argument about Art vs. Pornography. The book as a whole is certainly not for the kiddies, but it's hardly packed with sexual activity. However, there is a book in this collection that broaches that argument because it does take place on the planet of Sextillion and as The Will goes walking down its streets, there are several rather explicit sexual acts going on in the background. The general way of defining "pornography" is showing sexual acts that are designed to titillate or create a general state of sexual arousal. That is very much not the case here. This is not a comic that is somehow designed to sexually excite its readers, but I can imagine perhaps a less open-minded reader or someone who is new to reading mature-themed comics being a more than a little taken aback by some of those panels. But really, it's parsed down to no more than three or four panels. It's not gratuitous and it's not in your face, but it's there, so new readers may want to be aware. That's all I really wanted to say about that.
When it all boils down to how this book is and how it makes you feel, it's an beautiful and massively entertaining book that keeps you invested in all of its characters, creates a incredibly rich universe for these characters to exist in, never fails to please the eye or the intellect, and really, like Hazel, SAGA is something of a small miracle.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 17, 2012 7:13:33 PM PDT
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 17, 2012 7:35:58 PM PDT
Well, thank you, kind person.
Posted on Nov 6, 2012 5:27:46 AM PST
Jacob King says:
This is a really good review. It is rare to find a comic book that touches both the soul and the intellect and Saga does both. Just want to add that Staples' art is also brilliant.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2012 7:38:53 PM PST
I think I was too focused on the AvP discussion to remark on how mind-blowingly awesome Staples' art is. I will rectify this immediately.
Posted on Jan 27, 2013 3:29:26 PM PST
L. Heller says:
Just finished Saga Vol 1, to see what the hype was about-and yes-clearly see it. Loved Y-The Last Man, but here is Vaughn at his best. Fantastic characters and so much passion and ethos that pervades the characters and what they do and think. Finally,there is more than enough subtle humor and implicit satire at much of society's flaws. Can't Wait for Vol. 2 to come out.
Posted on Apr 9, 2013 3:20:05 PM PDT
D. Montague says:
I've never cared about characters as much as I have with the characters in Saga and it's only 11 issues in...such an amazing book
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 14, 2013 4:24:18 PM PDT
SAGA is very much on a road to being Vaughan's best series, but again, we've just finished the first two arcs and have a potentially long way to go. I don't think that his other big series ever really went off the rails, but SAGA just gets you invested in its characters from the first issue and just keeps going.
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