If you haven’t been reading Saga, well, then you haven’t been reading Saga. In semi-seriousness though, if you haven’t been reading it then you’ve been missing out on one of the best comic book series around. Contrary to popular myth, comic books aren’t just for nerds, overweight shut-ins, or males. Comic books are for anyone who can appreciate great literature, accompanied with great artwork. That being said, Saga, by Emmy nominated writer Brian K. Vaughn and Eisner Award winning artist Fiona Staples, has been making waves in the industry since its debut in March 2012. Taking top honors this past year at Comic-Con International San Diego, Saga earned Vaughn and Staples three Eisner Awards including best new series. The Eisner’s are the Oscars in the comic book industry named after, you guessed it, legendary comic book writer/artist Will Eisner. If that isn’t enough reason enough to get you reading Saga, then hopefully this list will persuade you in the right direction of your local comic book shop. Everybody loves lists!
Reason # 1 – Artwork
Shame on those who haven’t been exposed to the work of the wonderfully-brilliant Great White Northern that is Fiona Staples. Ms. Staples has work with comic book greats like Steve Niles on the short lived, yet equally spectacular Mystery Society, and has quickly become a common name in comic book shops. Staples artwork is like none in the industry. Incredibly detailed with fine lines and shadowed ones alike, her artwork incorporates bright colors giving an overall unique feel to the characters, setting, and creatures found in the Saga universe. The greatest aspect about Staple’s artwork, is the incorporation of dramatic realism with a playful twist. There is a great sense of beauty found in her artwork; the facial structures, body shapes, and sense of fashion that the characters posses. A majority of her covers could be considered piece in a modern art museum. With all the sex found in the pages of Saga, and believe me there is quite a bit, Staple’s is able to bring some lightheartedness to the awkwardness that is cartoons finding adult pleasures on paper. I consider Staples to be one of the best talents in comic book history. Yes, she is that good.
Reason # 2 – Alana
Alana, the female lead in Saga, is one hell of a woman. Falling in love with her prisoner turned husband Marko, Alana is seen saving him numerous times, cursing, fighting several creatures including a reanimated skeleton, and just overall being a badass. She does majority of this all while clutching tightly to her newborn Hazel. The thing about Alana and Marko’s love and their child is how illegal it all is. The two characters are from rival planets; think Bill Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliette now, but in space and way, way cooler. Unlike most female comic book heroines, Alana is one character, regardless of reader gender, that you can easily connect with. There is a real sense of belonging that Alana brings to the pages of Saga and a real emotional depth that is missing from majority of heroic characters in comics. With each issue, you begin to feel for Alana and the choice of rebellious love she took, the fear of losing her new family, and the spirit of true independence in a war-torn futuristic universe.
Reason # 3 – Story semi-spoiler alert
There are many elements to the story that is Saga and I’ve done my best to highlight a few of them. As the series begins, Alana is giving birth to Hazel. We quickly learn that this is no ordinary “new family, humble beginnings” story. It’s a story of a new family on the run from their home worlds, equally against each other in a senseless war, and yet equally alike in human nature. The story of Saga is also one of young, rebellious love, and the essence of growing up. Alana and Marko are forced to grow as individuals, a married couple, and as parents, while outrunning an angry prince, a bounty hunter, and even their own parents. Incorporated in their love story is the story of The Will, the deadly bounty hunter on the hunt for the couple. His story is one of redemption, from the things he has done and is being paid to do. Killing for money comes to a head when he discovers a little girl on a prostitution planet. There is also the story of Prince Robot IV, the angry, young hot-shot who wants nothing more than to have Alana and Marko’s heads on a platter. Prince Robot IV also finds himself at a crossroads; with a pregnant bride at home, he is forced to do something he doesn’t have the heart to in the first place. To top it off, Prince Robot IV’s head is an old tube style television set…yes, you read that correctly.
Reason # 4 – Alana’s opening line
Readers, I refuse to spoil it for you. I’m just not that cruel. There is so much hilarity and seriousness in her first moments on the page. Vaughn’s choice of diction to represent her situation could not be more perfect. It’s an immediate hook from Alana’s first word bubble, where we know right out of the gate the beauty of her character. It’s pure magic.
Reason # 5 – Theme
As I’ve covered so far, there are multiple plots within Saga but at the heart of the series lies its science fiction roots. Because of this, the imagination involved in Saga is wild and so, so fun. Does it have a giant cat that can tell when a person is lying? Yes it does. Is there a rocket ship forest with trees as the space crafts? You bet. Is there a sex planet, a Hemingway–eque character, and a sexy bounty-huntress with eight eyes and eight limbs? Of course there is! There is so much to love about Saga and equally as much to enjoy. With that dear readers, I hope I have persuaded you into reading this great piece of work. The collected volumes would also make a great Valentine’s Day gift for that special someone. Cheers!
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