Ongoing Series: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Posted: November 6, 2012 in Image, Reviews
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Saga, Chapter One
Property of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

by Phil Gibson

If you are a comic reader at all, you’ve probably heard of Brian K. Vaughan. He’s the mastermind behind such masterpieces as Y: The Last Man, Pride of Baghdad, and the Runaways.

Vaughan is that rare writer who is equally gifted at storytelling and character development. Every one of his series/graphic novels seems to feature an outside-the-box concept that still draws on archetypes we all know and love. The characters are rich, morally complex, and relate-able, even when cast against ridiculous backdrops.

Vaughan’s newest series, Saga, drawn by the phenomenal Fiona Staples, is the work of a scribe at the very top of his game. The main characters, Alana and Marko, are star crossed lovers on opposite sides of a neverending, intergalactic war that superficially resembles something out of Star Wars. Their newborn child, Hazel (who narrates the story in retrospect) becomes the center of attention to both her parents’ home planets.

Everyone in Saga has there own motives for pursuing Hazel and her parents.I won’t spoil too much here, but the morally gray “The Will” is one of the most interesting characters in the series. His motives to kill our protagonists for money tie closely with his own agenda to “do the right thing”, making it hard to peg him as a true villain. This is a running theme in Saga, as many of the characters’ means and ends are in constant conflict with one another.

Another big theme in Saga is inequality. The two planets involved in war have long since “outsourced” the actual violence to other locales to minimize the actual impact on themselves. Meanwhile, inhabitants of planets with no real stake in the war bear the brunt of the costs of violence. There are various characters that embody this sense of dehumanization, such as the supposedly violent spirits that inhabitant the woods of Cleave, where Alana and Marko spend the bulk of the first arc.

Yep, humans with TV heads
Property of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

There’s a lot of social commentary to be found in Saga, but the book is never so heavy that it stops being fun. There is a balance between the serious and ridiculous that Vaughan seems to get better than just about everyone, and this series is no exception. Fiona Staple’s art drives this balance home perfectly, with its highly stylized but believable characters. The whole series has a painted look to it that makes it feel like a piece of folklore rather than a comic book.

If you like science fiction, fantasy, epic adventures, or humanoids with TV heads, do yourself a favor and pick up the first trade, which is an absolute steal at $10. It contains the first six issues, and will basically get you up to speed, as issue seven comes out November 14th. This one is well worth adding to your pull list, especially if you’re looking for something a little meatier than the usual spandex-and-tights fare.


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