Saga, vol. 1

Saga 1Summary: Winner of the 2013 Hugo award for Best Graphic Story! When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults. This specially priced volume collects the first six issues of the smash-hit series.

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Saga, vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples 8.0

‘Saga’ is a science fiction/fantasy series by Brian K. Vaughan, writer of the phenomenal comic book series ‘Ex Machina’ and ‘Y: The Last Man’. He was also the writer, executive story editor, and producer on seasons three to five of the landmark television series ‘Lost’. It follows the space adventures of Alana and Marko, who are fugitives from the law.

The book begins with Alana giving birth as the officers are knocking on their door. It will be one of the many intense moments in this collection, which compiles the first six books in the series. What makes the series so gripping, though, are not the action sequences, so much as the emotional roots of each scene. In fact, the action only supports the rest of the material – not the reverse.

This is a rare thing in comic books, and it’s something that I’ve ranted about many times over: comics are frequently just an excuse for large panels of mindless action sequences that are lined up back-to-back by poor exposition that is largely disposable. The writing is essentially inconsequential and the focus is on the visceral, nothing more. This makes the books empty.

Vaughan knows better. Although I felt ‘Y: The Last Man’ didn’t fulfill its potential, it was superior to most other series. And ‘Ex Machina’ has never once failed to sustain my interest. With ‘Saga’, he has completely reeled me in: he has given me characters I’m interested in, a story with multiple layers to it, and injected the whole thing with a creativity that is unique to this series.

Each character, good and bad, is given a back story that informs their behaviour (as with real people), and this behaviour becomes consistent throughout. We meet new characters, leave old ones, but remain tethered to the core few. And what’s great is none of them are pure heroes or villains; from our outsider’s perspective, we see people just struggling to get by, impacting on others in the process.

‘Saga’ discusses values and prejudices along the way, which is nothing new, but which Vaughan does quite well. He affords neither side any real judgement, he’s not preachy, but he allows us to see the impact that this short-sightedness has and how misguided it usually is, no matter from which side it comes from. He subtly addresses issues that comics often avoid.

It may sound all serious-like, but he gets really nutty with the worlds he’s created. Where else would we find a race of live robots that can reproduce much like humans, a forest of rockets, a large cat whose chief ability is to discern lies, and a variety of fantasy creatures evolved into full-fledged species. It’s a delicious medley of family, wacky, and jaw-dropping. I wuvs it.

And for an added touch, he gives us a narrator: Alana and Marko newborn child, Hazel, recounting the story, giving us perspective on it.

Fiona Staples’ artwork is also excellent. I’ve seen more detailed, I’ve seen slicker, but it’s quite excellent and there doesn’t seem to be anything that she is unable to draw. Furthermore, her layouts are superb and the way she presents the story is perfect. Even in my favourite books I don’t always find such a professional job as this one. I’m very curious to see what else she’s done.

All told, ‘Saga’ is thus far an excellent series. I was fully engrossed and entertained throughout, and I very much look forward to seeing how it will unfold in the next volume – especially with the ending that Vaughan wrote for this collection. It’s not exactly a cliffhanger, but it’s a development that will certainly add to the dynamic tensions on the page. It should be quite a sweet read.

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